The hikoi vs the trucks

Kiwiblog covers the argument of a commenter that the truck protest will be to the Labour led government what the Hikoi of Hope was to the 1998 National led government.  It’s an interesting case David Farrar raises, suggesting the tide has gone out on Labour.

I think while the two events might reflect similar moods on the surface, there is something different underneath.  The hikoi was planned by a hugely diverse range of organisations across a period of months and reflected concern about an underlying malaise.  The truck companies’ protest was allegedly organised in a couple of days primarily by a large roading lobby group with close connections to the major opposition party and, again allegedly, was about a specific sector of the economy not being consulted well enough on a small fee that they would be required to pay.

The sight of hundreds, or thousands, of trucks rolling into town was entrancing, and certainly well supported, but I’m not sure it has the same democratic influence that tens of thousands of ordinary New Zealanders committing to walk miles in their shoes to send a message to government had or can have again.

46 Comments Posted

  1. Thanks Kevyn. That second part does seem pretty blatant manipulation to make it sound less than it is.


  2. More the blog posts than the comment-ers.

    I agree Turnip, you and BJChip are pragmatic, but, sadly, this pragmatism isn’t reflected by the Green message or the candidates.

    The red direction is wrong. It will be the death of the Greens, just like it killed the Alliance.

  3. Kiore1

    Whether planned or not, and I think the organization of it was ongoing in anticipation of a triggering event myself, it was still perceived as connecting the “ordinary people” and their problems with inflation in every aspect of their lives and it is still as a result, NOT to be discounted by worrying about whether it was organized.


  4. BP

    Everyone brings their ideology here, including you. Sometimes it shows a lot, sometimes less. I think your generalization is vastly overstating the actual case, and in some ways providing a mirror insight into what YOU bring here.

    Most of us are trying to work out ways for truth to be found, for justice to be accomplished in THIS society and for our kids to survive. If you have some other reason for visiting us that’s fine, but I don’t think you’re getting more than you give here in terms of ideology but you’re getting a lot more in terms of information.

    As for the party rather than the blog, ideology clearly IS part of the reason we’ve been stuck in single digits forever, and likely will remain in single digits and it greatly limits our effectiveness at actually saving the planet for our kids.


  5. I have had some experience of managing protests, and I find it very hard to believe that the truckies protest was a spontaneous outburst put together in two day. It was certainly planned a long way in advance.

  6. BP

    I’m a green and I believe in pragmatic solutions and not idiotic ideology.
    Go read anything that bjchip posts he’s a pragmatic green as well.

    I will be the first to tell you that a lot of green policy is full of ideology that isn’t helpful. It isn’t helpful in getting the greens elected to parliment and it isn’t helpful in effecting change.

    Take this for instance the green party can’t even come out and say that a reduced population would be a good thing. I was reading an article from the Green party magazine Te Awa by Louis Griffiths were she is telling us all that over population isn’t a problem instead the problem is that the rich have too much and we must evenly distribute it. She sounds more like a communist than a green. After we have evenly distributed everything according to Louis Griffiths the world will be fine and we can continue as usual. This is exactly what BP was alluding to in his post, she is sprouting ideology (communisim) as the answer and sadly for us all if we listen to people like Louis Griffiths we will only have failure.

    I will try and simplify things so that people like Louis Griffiths can understand if we don’t have enough to go around it doesn’t matter how evenly we distribute everything some people will miss out!!!

  7. >>Why are the Greens less concerned about outcomes and more concerned about a tool?

    Because it’s religion. The “Buy Kiwi Made” campaign is another example.

    In the time I’ve been reading here, I’ve seen nothing but ideology. This blog is no different from US far-right blogs in this respect.

    Pragmatic solutions that don’t fit with the ideology are ignored.

  8. bigblukiwi,

    Care to paint a picture of what the future “system” will look like?

    What part of history will you be drawing from to paint his picture?

    My prediction is one of tribalism.

    Basically a drop down a few rungs on Maslows levels of heirachy for the population.

    Expect to see more lawlessness and tribes setting up their own systems for law and order (as being developed by the Asian community in Botany)

    Gangs are the basic tenent of tribalism and I expect to see this develop across society.

    Mutual clubbing together for the good of the tribe, and each tribe having their own “territory” (territory not just geopgraphical but trade, influence, etc.)

    So we will have tribalism such as we see with the patriarcal Maori structure involving land and assets, together with overarching tribalsm such as the freemasons, catholic church, islam, black power, hells angels, bloods, cripps, rotary, etc.

    In fact the overarching tribal systems are in place already, all that needs to happen is the geograhical tribes to be established.

    This will come about when the concept of nationhood fails.

    How do you see society structure in the future?

  9. bjchip – is correct. This latest’ protest’ is our version of the ‘food riots’ taking place in many places. Much sympathy for the truckers is a reaction to the position we have all been placed in, the rich too, by the misguided policies that have consumed so much wealth in so many nations over the last several many decades, that it almost defies belief. If it was the subject matter of a Crichton novel we’d shake our heads and say ‘he’s telling Porkies again’.

    We all surely know in our heart of hearts that the world economy has been hi-jacked by a flawed system which thanks be to my god, is creaking at the seams, and about to be modified in a big way. To what, is the big question.

    The change will cause us all severe pain, but then perhaps we deserve it for letting it go on for so long. I’m thankful though that we are resilient enough, and knowledgable enough to come through strengthened and changed for the better. Have faith it’ll all come right in the end.

    The end is nigh ( for the present system). Study history and all will be revealed!

  10. LibertyScott

    A lot of hard work went into the rail system. I am not as certain of a national rail system being unviable… but I have to agree that the rail system we currently have is underwater. With warming that could be true in more ways and places by the turn of the century, but that’s another thing.

    Rail works in utterly cr@p weather. In Wellington we do notice that on occasion the weather isn’t so good 🙂 It CAN be made to go quite a bit faster than the average truck and remain economic. It CAN be made to run by electricity for long distances. It can move stuff that would break a truck. Some advantages are there if someone actually reached out to take them. The routes used presently are .. mmm… sub-optimal and you have already pointed out the age of the locomotives. Coastal shipping can do much of the same work… we are after all. on a couple of islands, not in the red hot red heart of Oz/ .

    Still, I feel VERY uneasy about the prospect of giving up rail transit… would rather keep it and work up a wood pellet fired steam engine…


  11. Kevyn is largely right, about half of road costs are fixed and can’t be attributable to any vehicle use and most of the remainder are attributed to heavy vehicles.

    There is some bizarre mythology about trucks being subsidised which any honest interpretation of the facts shows to be largely untrue- the biggest subsidy argument is around local roads which applies also to cars (and buses), as rates pay for around half the cost of local roads. There is a strong case for full recovery of local road costs, but with flat RUC and fuel tax regardless of where you use the roads it would exacerbate existing overcharging of state highway usage.

    and state highways are what competes with rail.

    I once believed trucks were heavily subsidised as I was a rail enthusiast (still am, i know a lot about railways), but after some hard look at the facts and many discussions with those who have dealt with this for some years, the truth turns out to be inconvenient for the Greens and railway advocates. Most freight that goes by road could never go by any other mode, rail isn’t competitive because the high fixed cost of a lengthy duplicate infrastructure needs recovering from a lot of traffic which means long train loads reasonably frequently going long distances. New Zealand in most cases doesnt have the volume or distances of traffic to justify that.

    Now the Greens could advocate for changing motor vehicle registration fees to advantage cleaner burning truck engines and disadvantage the older dirty ones, they could advocate shifting RUC to an electronic option so that trucks pay according to the costs of different types of road (e.g. unsealed or lightly sealed roads should cost a lot more than state highways) and to monitor weight restricted routes (all of which could reduce road maintenance costs and may even mean the transport costs of servicing some remote areas become too high, so some land may lie fallow).

    but no, you worship the church of railways which in NZ can really only work for the coal, milk, log and container traffic on the main trunk, West Coast and Bay of Plenty. Why are the Greens less concerned about outcomes and more concerned about a tool? Why give a damn about a railway fleet which has locomotives all older than the average truck in NZ?

  12. Trevor, The GST on petrol isn’t being spent on roads. The excise duty is specified in cents per litre so it isn’t affected when the oil price goes up (or down). It was adjusted for inflation in 06 and 07 but not this year.

    The blatant manipulation: Trailers up to 3.5 tonnes are exempt from RUC payments but they are included in the RUC rates table. The latest RUC rates order reduced the RUCs on 1 tonne trailers by half, on two tonnes by a third, 3 tonnes by a fifth. Include these reductions when calculating the average increase in RUCs and you get 7%. Exclude them and the average increase is 10%. Additionally RUCs for 3 tonne to 6 tonnes has increased 15%, almost all other tonnages have increased by 10% except for the final two tonnes of gross weight where the increases are 3% to 7%. Only a tiny minority of trucks pay distance charges at their maximum GVW. Most truckies buy distance charges at their normal maximum laden weight and buy supplementaries for those trips made at maximum weight. So when the Minister states that the increase 7% and in some cases as low as 3% she is talking about the situation on paper rather than in the real world that trucks operate in. If maintenance costs have increased by 10% then the entire table of RUCs should have been increased 10%. There is certainly no practical reason for reducing the rates for a class of vehicle that is exempt unless the objective is to manipulate the numbers for PR reasons.

  13. Kevyn, hasn’t the recent raft of petrol price rises already increased the government’s tax take from this share of the road users?

    I haven’t seen the RUC tables, so I don’t know what this “blatant political manipulation of light trailer RUCs” is that you are referring to. Can you give any details?


  14. A short note on “ordinary” people.
    The Treaty of Waitangi refers to the Tangata Rangitira (the chiefly people) and the Tangata Maori (the ordinary people)

    In the maori language the word maori simply means ordinary – or not special. So Totara is special but manuka is maori. Similarly there are the bright stars (navigation aids) and the stars which are maori or ordinary.

    Because the Treaty was so widely circulated and read, the term maori slowly gained a capital letter and became Maori, the English name for the native people of New Zealand.

    So maori is a Maori language word but Maori is an English word with a different meaning. Hence there should be no macron over the a in Maori, but that is another issue. Notice that the logo for the Maori party is not capitalised and hence retains the meaning of ordinary and presumably resonates with the “common people” of New Zealand. They used to be Labour’s support base.

  15. From a socio-political point of view a much better comparison would have been to the trucker protests that began the process that led to the overthrow of the Allende regime in Chile. Orchestrated by right wing business interests, encouraged by the media, condoned by the police, the truckers protest should serve as a warning to the left. This is not to deny that the smaller trucking firms in particular are hurting, with rising fuel costs, rising interest rates, new operating rules for drivers, new compliance costs for the trucks themselves (especially older trucks) and now increased road user charges. But regardless of the legitimacy of truckers concerns, this event should be taken as a sign of things to come…

  16. Phil, Next time you’re at a magazine rack flick through a copy of Truck and Driver magazine (NZ Post truck on the cover). Freidlander lets slip what the truck protest is really all about: drumming up public support to replace RUCs with a “simpler” diesel tax. That will really open the door for truck subsidies and kill rail stone dead.

  17. Trevor, If this 10% (on top of last year’s 15%) was genuinely needed to cover maintenance costs why was the largest group of road users excluded from the increase? No matching increase in the petrol tax along with the blatant political manipulation of light trailer RUCs in the rates table and the refusal to punlish the MOTs cost allocation study tells me this increase has happened for other reasons.

  18. Personally I think the truckies’ protest is all a bit childish. What their empoyers are really upset about is the fact that the government didn’t give them a chance to buy up lots of RUC at the old rate before the price went up, so they are throwing a fit. Yet the oil companies do that to motorists all the time and we just have to accept it.

    Note that one of the reasons for the increase in RUC is increased road maintenance costs due to the increased oil prices, both for the fuel for the maintenance vehicles and also for the roading materials which have a large oil component. Why should the truckies get special treatment?


  19. “The truckies protest is a symptom and a symbol both. It is (at least according to what I’ve seen and heard from people today) not something to be taken in isolation or discounted because it wasn’t given a Maori name or organized by recognizable left-wing organizations.”

    Huge applause…..

    The fact the left can’t see it is telling.

  20. Convoluted but amusing and there are some good points in there. 🙂

    The basic question is how much is the “just” amount that the trucks should pay and that question is not simply answered. I thank Kevyn for a good job on it.


  21. heh-heh..!


    you set new benchmarks in convoluted/logic.. was ‘the trees’ that put it over the


  22. kjuv, Thats a good question. Fortunately there is a simple answer.

    Road user charges include a component to recover the natural damage to roads and bridges, which is about $7 per thousand km. On top of this the wear-and-tear cost is added. It starts at about 50 cents per 1,000 km for light vehicles then increases by the third power for each additional tonne so buses pay about $40 and logging trucks about $400.

    Thus the two-thirds of maintenance cost of natural ageing effects is split between cars and trucks based on annual km travelled, roughly 35bn km for cars and 3.5bn km for trucks.

    So we end up with trucks paying 32% + 7% = 39%
    and cars paying 2% + 59% = 61%

    Construction costs have a very complex allocation formula because size, weight, cornering and acceleration/deceleration all affect different costs to different extents.

    To the best of my knowledge roads provide no service to trees until they become firewood. But my point was that trees don’t crash into cars, cars crash into trees. In roughly three-quarters of car/truck crashes it was the car driver that lost control not the truck driver. At least in these car/truck crashes which are frequently caused by boozed up car drivers we can be thankful that it is the drunk driver that dies not another innocent car driver that might have been hit if the truck hadn’t been there.

  23. hmm… Thanks for that, Kevyn. But nonetheless 32:2 (16:1) is actually greater than 90:10 (9:1) so that heavy vehicles have a much greater impact than others. So shouldn’t they be taking up the tab for road maintainance in a similar ratio?

    And please tell me the services that roads provide for trees and their ilk.

  24. kjuv, Yes you are wrong, trucks don’t even come close to being responsible for 90% of road damage. The STCC 32% as the correct figure. Cars are responsible for a further 2%. The remaining 65% is the responsibility of the environment because essentially we live in an entrophic universe and nothing lasts for ever if you don’t use it.

    Yes are disproportionately involved in serious crashes and so are trees. So, yes the rest of us are subsidising tree-huggers. If we exclude the serious crashes where truckies are no more at fault than the trees are then the answer is no truck aren’t disproportionately involved in seroius accidents.

    So now you can go to bed with your illusions shattered and a clear consciounce.

  25. Frog

    There’s a lot of people who are coupling this protest with things like the rise in rates, the rise in train fare to Wellington, the rise in their interest payments (to Australian banks), the rise in their petrol bills and the rise in their food prices. In other words, the millstones of excessive numbers and excessive consumption and excessive borrowing to fund an impossible lifestyle are being found to weigh rather heavily on those who were just barely afloat to start with.

    So I wouldn’t distract myself about how it’s “different”. It is, but it is not a difference that makes it any better for the party in power. We’ve had this discussion about why the money goes to Oz and the successful businesses go to Oz and the best trained among us go to Oz, or to wherever the market leads them. All that money and all that productivity and all those people are lost to this country and we are ACTUALLY poorer as a result, no matter how many unskilled laborers we import and how many numbers we fudge.

    Makes me wonder just how poor we are on average and how long before the perversity of the housing market and its prices and the “profits” made in that market and siphoned off to Oz as interest registers as being a lot more important than it has been. This nation needs to make a choice. It is too big to be comfortable as a rural farming community offshore island attached to the Aussie economy, and it is too small and isolated to simply compete its way into the industrial world. Successful companies don’t just choose to go, they HAVE to go. We have to choose what we will be.

    Someplace along the line, the country itself has to work out that the choice is between subsidizing and supporting some industrial base that is HERE and not moved elsewhere, or accepting 3rd world standards of living for everyone but owners of farms.

    Being bled dry is what has been happening, and not understanding it is happening is a matter of misplaced pride more than anything. We are choosing to try to do what cannot be done. Simply promoting free market competition for our industries leads us to siphon off more and more of our best people and the illusion that this process can succeed is a chimera, a mirage, and a sucker’s bet.

    So the truckies work hard. A lot of people work hard, and yet it’s impossible for one or even two incomes to manage the mortgage on a house. It takes three or even four.. because the prices are so totally out of line with the rest of the economy.. There IS no money to pay for the sorts of houses being built or the lifestyles we are aspiring to have. Not really. So much has been borrowed and the structural imbalance in the financial world is so massive that it can’t possibly be sustained. It can go on longer than anyone can imagine but it WILL crash land.

    The truckies protest is a symptom and a symbol both. It is (at least according to what I’ve seen and heard from people today) not something to be taken in isolation or discounted because it wasn’t given a Maori name or organized by recognizable left-wing organizations.

    I think you’re missing something here.


  26. Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t trucks (heavy vehicles) responsible for up to 90% of road damage and disproportionately involved in seroius accidents? If this is correct, surely the rest of us are subsidising the truckies?

  27. haz, Yes it is curious that people who squealed like wounded pigs When Transit tried to improve further improve the state of our highways by allowing bigger trucks are now supporting truckies just because it might save half a cent on their grocery bill. Voters are shallow shallow people, motivated solely be self interest. The invisible hand of democracy rears its ugly forefinger yet again.

  28. i’m interested in the sqawkback response to this parade – as i mentioned on yr other post – Happy valley protesters were arrested when they blocked a railway line and talkback was full of people demanding they be made to pay for loss of income to Toll and costs of police – in the case of the greenpeace boarding of the ship at Lyttelton talkback again was full of strident demands that the protesters be made to compensate Police and the shipowners for time and lost earnings . That king of outrage danny watson was almost having seizures in his indignation and demanding that they cover the costs of their protest . In this case? …its all good.

  29. Phil repeats the urban legend that trucks are being heavily subsidised. To arrive at that conclusion the STCC study had to resort to the assumption that road use is GST exclusive and that roads must earn a 12% return on capital.

    Phil compounds that error and proves his ignorance on the subject by implying that the fact this is the second increase in heavy vehicle RUCs in 20 years is in some unspecified way something that Transit and truckies should ashamed of instead of a feat they should be proud of. The maintenence management systems implemented by Transit over the last 20 years had prevented any increase in maintenance costs until China sent the global construction price index soaring by 30% since 2001.

    Fortunately the voluntary adoption of road friendly suspension by two-thirds of trucking industry and the concentration of freight on larger trucks has prevented the increase in road damage that might have been expected from the concentration of import distribution companies in Auckland. Ever heard of road friendly suspension Phil? Or read the policy recommendations from the OECD’s DIVINE study?

    The other spending increases in that time have been entirely focused on creating the impression that the government is doing something about peak period commute times in Auckland and Wellington. There is no reason for slugging trucks with the cost of pretending to solve a problem that they are not part of to any significant degree. Even if trucks had been made to pay a share of that cost it would have been a fixed amount per km equivalent to what the average petrol car is paying – 0.9 cents per km.

    Anntte King’s latest response is so stupid it defies belief. Hold an enquiry into the road cost allocation model. The government ignored the recommendations from the last enquiry in 2001, they’ll do the same with this one if they last long enough.

  30. joy said: Surely the truckies’ protest today was more similar to the various truck lobby protests around the world this year?

    Yep, Joy, they’ve been doing a lot of this in Spain and France and even the UK recently. It is really only news here because it is somewhat unusual to NZers.

    The more protests the better imo. I like people being engaged politically. Apathy gives the Labour/National duopoly of conservative anti-environmental and pro-big business politics too much room to stuff around both our land and its people.

  31. BB said: And what did the “Hikoi of hope? actually achieve?

    Stuff all, BB! And the reason is that the punters chose to put their faith in the Labour Party at election time. Under Labour, the poorest of people are actually worse off in real terms than they were immediately after Ruthenasia Richardson’s benefit cuts.

    Jeanette and Russel addressed the Anglican Church’s General Synod recently re this, but unfortunately their speeches don’t seem to have been published on the Green Party website (might contact them and see if they can dig up the speech notes and belatedly publish them).

    If enough Greens had been elected back in 1999, or subsequently, to lead a Government, or even to be necessary another Party to form one, things could have been very different.

  32. Surely the truckies’ protest today was more similar to the various truck lobby protests around the world this year?

    I support their right to protest. With a critical appointment at Wellington Hosp I feared we would be inconvenienced but fortunately not.

    It has been pointed out to me that the fuel companies’ rise in the price of diesel is now significantly out of proportion to the price of petrol, and that is without the addition of RUC’s.

    As diesel users ourselves we hope that some balance can be achieved.

  33. jh – the Anglican church’s Hikoi and the Urewera Raids are separated by more things than just a decade of time. I’m not quite sure how you equate the two, unless you’re suggesting the Anglican church was a prototype for the Urewera stuff?.

  34. jh


    Comparing the Hikoi of Hope to the controversy surrounding the “Anti-Terror” Raids in the Ureweras is hardly an balanced comparison.

  35. Actually why did the government choose now, given oil prices and protests overseas by truckers and fishermen?

  36. That’s the problem: Green Marxist Central (GMC) thinks it’s “The People” and soon everyone will be persuaded. :mrgreen:

  37. “tens of thousands of ordinary New Zealanders committing to walk miles in their shoes to send a message to government had or can have again.”

    I recall going down Colombo Street on my bike when I heard some odd characters who were protesting police action in the Ureweras (the one that bought “some very disturbing activities to an end”) called themselves “ordinary people”. I couldn’t help smirking.

  38. Frog

    Denigrate the truckers protest at your peril, make no mistake this has become much more than a protest against the rise in road user charges.

    This is a protest against this government and against the never ending prise rises, it might be time for the Greens to re-think their policy re increasing fuel taxes.

  39. As a minor note, I said some of my commenters compared it to the Hikoi of Hope but personally I thought the better comparison was to Plunketline – a good example of a Government losing sight of the symbolism of the issue.

  40. The large rail lobby group also has close connections to the major opposition party.

    Or are you suggesting there is a difference between Freidlander and Bulger that the rest of us don’t know about?

    Labour clearly didn’t think a 10% increase in RUc charges is “small” or else it would have applied the increase to the RUC equivalent petrol tax paid directly by most voters every day. After all, if roading costs have increased 10 in one year, or 25% in two years then shouldn’t we all pay our fair share instead of expecting diesel uses to subsidies us? Especially the diesel users whose trucks have air suspension and who are still waiting for a NZ government to act on the OECD’s 1998 policy recommendation that govenment’s encourage the use of road friendly air suspension by charging less road tax for trucks fitted with it, or alternatively only increase fees for trucks not fitted with it.

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