Student Volunteer Army defeats student stereotype

Today I got to spend time with the students and organisers behind the Volunteer Student Army in Christchurch as they wound down major operations.

Organised by Canterbury students, the student army recruited hundreds of volunteers, including a Green Party contingent to shovel liquifacted soil, leaflet, and door knock in areas badly affected by Christchurch’s devastating earthquake.

The Earthquake has brought considerable tragedy and heart-break to Christchurch but also a great deal of inspiration.

I saw columns of students returning with their spades and wheelbarrows to HQ where a concert had been organised. O-week with its usual array commercial bands, comedians, hypnotists unfortunately had to be cancelled this year – but what the students got this year was so, so much better. Last night The Black Seeds Barnaby Weir popped in for an impromptu gig, and I know tonight they’ll be stocked with their secret guests.

The volunteers and organisers I met today represent the nation at its best. Simple and humble community-service and hard-work mixed with cutting edge online tools and organisational software (with a large dose of fun mixed in). They all deserve medals.

The image of the lazy, selfish, and drunk student or the inept and corrupt student association so favoured of ACT and National Party arguments is well and truly busted.

122 Comments Posted

  1. Mr moderator – is 52 Positive thumbs a record for this site? O.O

    [frog: Nope, I’ve seen a 70 a few months back. Keep trying.]

  2. …”I suppose the question is, it the Mexicans are a highly trained earthquake rescue squad, why are they not accredited? As least they were put to good use outside the CBD.”

    ok, didnt realise that. I heard one of them complaining that they got told by a gruff and unpleasant Australian police officer that they would be arrested if they didnt move out of the CBD.

    I’m miffed that Aussie cops got the tick when good kiwi volunteers got the finger.

  3. BJ – so if you were the person in charge of safety, you would let people go back into buildings like the Grand Chancellor if they wanted to get their passport? Or any other building in the same block?

    You say we should let people make up their own minds.

    We don’t even let poeple decide that with how fast they drive. Or how much they drink befopre they drive. Or if they wear a seatbelt.

    But you think we can trust them to make the right decidion in situation far more dangerous?

    In a previous life I used to give safety talks to expedition groups in the third world. The same thing happened every time.

    Around a third of the group would take little notice of even very serious risk, a third would over react, and a third would take the message as intended.

    A large protion of the population go through life with a “it won’t happen to me” attitude.

  4. greengeek – I agree we have become perhaps too risk averse, however in this case I think it’s warranted. If the Grand Chancellor comes down, that could wipe out most of a city block and anyone in it.

    the problem wqith portaloos, is poeple think the authorities can just make them appear out of nowhere – they have to be available first.

    But I also agree that people shouldn’t look to the govt and council for everything. Some able bodied poeple have no power and water and sewerage and are sitting at home waiting for help. Others in exactly the same situation are part of the rescue teams, or are out helping others.

    It would be good if businesses that are green stickered can have limited passes to get into their work places. We are probably at the point where they wouldn’t hamper rescue and recovery teams.

    However I think they needed a week and a half completely unhindered by anyone else in the CBD.

    As for the Mexicans and firemen – if they had enough accredited teams, trained and working to a standard procedure, then putting in other teams who did not work to the same standards may have cause problems – I don’t know. And we’re probably all just guessing as we don’t know how the Mexicans or volunteer firemen are trained and if they would have been an asset or a liability in the CBD.

    I suppose the question is, it the Mexicans are a highly trained earthquake rescue squad, why are they not accredited? As least they were put to good use outside the CBD.

  5. Photonz –

    I do not think that anyone in Christchurch would fail to understand the risks at this point. Do you really? I don’t give people a lot of credit, but apparently I have more faith in their learning ability than the authorities here…. or you.

    The lesson plan was written in blood. I am quite sure they were absorbed by those present when class was in session.


  6. photonz; on the face of it caution is eminently sensible. However, I feel we have made a national pastime of being risk averse. And being risk averse means cowering instead of doing what must be done.

    Waiting for the authorities to deliver portaloos meant that people were (and are…) at risk from disease. It is actually really important that we don’t take independence and self reliance away from people. Portaloos were not the only answer. People are creative and it does a lot of harm to lull people into a state of mind where they wait for the government to supply their needs.

    Those whose businesses are on hold because they cannot get their documents and possessions out from the cordon are in a position that affects their wellbeing and the wellbeing and incomes of others. Of course we cannot fault the authorities for what they have achieved so far, but I do criticise them for failing to trust or empower Joe public adequately.

    The wheels of beauracracy grind too slowly for the public to keep standing back. Even teams of volunteer fireman from other parts of NZ were turned away. As was a Mexican USAR team.

    BJ – “The CBD needs rebuilding and the Cathedral needs to be replaced with what I would call a “disney” version”. I agree. It seems madness to rebuild in stone.

    Weta Workshops and the entire film industry are well up to the task of recreating in lightweight composites etc an exact replica of what was lost.

  7. bj says “People know that stuff can fall on them. People can make up their own minds. What happened to the emphasis on freedom for people to decide for themselves how much risk to take?’

    I completely disagree. Many people would take the risk, as they have no structural engineering expertise, and no one knows when the big aftershock will come.

    And when it does, we’d have families of the dead people asking (and rightly so) why their loved ones were allowed into deathtrap buildings.

  8. Photonz

    You are right about why they are being cautious. I am saying that their caution is misplaced now.

    People know that stuff can fall on them. People can make up their own minds. What happened to the emphasis on freedom for people to decide for themselves how much risk to take?

    The matter of the rescue crews isn’t at question. That was correct on the whole. The matter of getting owners into structures to extricate what they can before those structures are brought down so that those structures can BE brought down, is.

    It is a rather chicken-egg problem to sort out. With so much structural damage there is no “safe” way to proceed quickly and with winter coming there is no “safe” way to not proceed quickly. The risks are different, but neither risk can be entirely ignored.


  9. bj – I think the authorities have to be cautious about letting people back in because there are so many unstable buildings, and there are several aftershocks every day.

    Quite a number of people killed in the quake were not killed in the initial quake. People were killed going back into buildings for their belonings, others were killed going back in to help people, even walking home.

    I even heard the Cathedral spire didn’t fall in the initial quake but an aftershock a while later (which is probably why all the people up the spire at the time of the earthquake got away).

    I don’t think 1 1/2 weeks is a huge amont of time to let rescue workers have uninhibited access to recover victims after such a disaster.

    If there’s strong aftershock (more likely WHEN there’s a strong aftershock) it will be another tragedy if more people are unneccessarily killed.

    As for funding, I think English is right – nothing should be ruled out. The wole picture need to be looked at, and the effects on the economy. Russel doesn’t want someone on $100,000 per year to lose WFF, but is happy to have a levy on someone on $70,000.

  10. Photonz, I was referring specifically to the immediate calls to cut government social programs and to not raise any taxes that emanated from the right. As though that decision was more important than the issue of getting things done, and the point is not what money shortages there are/were at present but the very immediate arrangements required to get buildings and services in ChCh working again in a way that moves it back towards permanency.

    Unlike some I did not regard the statement of Brownlee’s that so many buildings have to go (and soon) as an unreasonable observation. I would be less cautious about allowing people to go in and get valuable stuff out, and more aggressive about pulling things down once they had done so. Once cleared of falling building parts, the streets of the CBD can become useful thoroughfares and the city starts healing.

    My impression is that:

    1. The argument about how to ultimately pay for this is getting in the way of getting on with the work. That may not be true, it is an impression I am getting from the top of the decision tree – English and Key milking the “shock doctrine” moment.

    2. The desire to keep people perfectly safe is interfering with the clearing of buildings (almost certainly true) and

    3. The delay in doing that is interfering with the clearing of streets (absolutely true).

    One does permit people to take informed risk to “get on with it” in some cases, and I submit that this is one of those cases. Brownlee isn’t at fault here… and I don’t think it is being done all THAT badly, but the time pressure to complete basic repairs and demolitions needs I think, to be weighted more heavily in the decision processes.

    While I agreed that the powers granted were excessive to the purpose of the FIRST quake I didn’t regard them as being unnecessary. This is an altogether different level of disaster… and the powers he has are I think, appropriate to this quake.


  11. greengeek says “The portaloo shortage (etc etc) should serve as a reminder that we should not wait for our lords and masters to do the jobs we should jump in and do ourselves”

    And where will you get them from?

    I was at an event last week with thousands of people, hundreds of km from Chch, and there was not a single portloo – not one – they were all in Chch.

    So where would you get your portaloo from?

    BJchip says “I can’t believe this is taking so long to be figured out.”

    I haven’t heard of any money shortages yet. Employers said last week that the govt would need to give at least $20m for employers to keep staff in work. They fronted up immediately with six times that – $120m. $50m has already gone out.

    And considering you want everything done as fast as possible, weren’t you one of the ones comlaining about the extra powers given to Brownlie to enable the rebuilding to be sped up? (or was that others?)

  12. “..But rose tinted glasses don’t help in this business…”

    i don’t think i am viewing thru rose-coloured glasses..

    ..i am analysing the political realities/possibilities…

    ..and concluding on what i see..

    “..minimising the size of the task is the surest way to lose…”

    once again…i am not minimising anything..

    ..and reality check…

    ..elections swing on moods/perceptions…

    ..not in the main..on the efforts of party volunteers..

    ..and my main argument is that the mood about this govt… ripe for a seachange..

    ..based on how worse off most of us are..

    ..and when i say ‘most’…i mean trans-ideological..

    ..go to keywiblog and read the thread on food prices..

    ..where farrar does some deep-massage on food-price stats.. try and tell us we have never had it so good..

    ..and see even the rightwingers tell him he is talking utter crap..

    …and that walking into any supermarket only confirms what everyone knows..

    ..that food prices have been ramping up and up..

    ..this is just one of many factors that lead me to think a change of govt…the personal popularity of key notwithstanding.. eminintly do-able… all depends on the mood..

    ..and of course..interesting/innovative policies from the parties desiring power..

    ..and that is the task i wd not minimise in any way..


  13. There is another difference. We’ve spent 80 years building Christchurch in bricks and mortar rather than building it correctly, and assuming that we knew what the risk was, when we did not. Napier 80 years ago was a lot smaller than ChCh (our second largest city?) is/was.

    However, I an not so pessimistic. Half the buildings have to come down, the other half can stay up. The CBD needs rebuilding and the Cathedral needs to be replaced with what I would call a “disney” version… but it is all quite possible. Most of the productive industry down there wasn’t IN the CBD.

    People are going to think 2,3,4,many times before putting one brick on top of another, even for the external skin of the building. Viewing the buildings where the veneer mass damaged structure only confirms me in my view of using bricks… for anything.

    Which leaves the rebuilding and repair of houses. Properly braced walls, lightweight roofing and sheathing. We can move on it now that we can use power tools.

    Work this out with immediate short term borrowing to ensure that things get done NOW… not later, and set up the taxes and other measures to pay them back at greater leisure. If we are to be arguing politics of how to pay or cut that argument will be long. If we are trying to get stuff sealed up before the onset of winter… we have about a month.

    In other words, Key & co need to get their heads out of their collective butts and DO IT rather than yammering about cutting social services and dividing us all over again.

    I can’t believe this is taking so long to be figured out.


  14. “..and how is this any different to the situation that Forbes faced this time eighty years ago?”

    I think they were much more egalitarian times. And I think people generally expected less in terms of assets and infrastructure. There was also no social welfare system to fund.

    Our building codes now make it hellishly expensive to build / rebuild / repair a house. Ironic when you consider that the building codes led to the leaky homes disaster.

    Back in the 30’s a man could build his own house. The law won’t allow that now – we are “trained” to believe that the government knows best, and to believe their promises, rather than getting stuck in and doing what needs to be done ourselves.

    In the 30’s they had a huge pool of willing unemployed men. Despite the misery of that condition (and we shouldn’t want such a thing) these men at least provided the manpower for a rebuild. These days that same pool of unemployed won’t be available the same way.

    Today’s unemployed will be a nett financial loss during the rebuild (no I am not trying to critiscise the unemployed) and I bet we see an influx of semi-skilled workers from overseas to provide a good deal of the manpower.

    I think a lot of the recessionary forces within NZ come from the fact that we put too much trust in government rather than “setting free” the energy of the ordinary bloke.

    That is why I find the example of the students so encouraging – they got stuck in in a practical way.

    I think maybe the rest of us should have been prepared to break through the “official” cordons and do the patrolling and brick shifting ourselves. Too many business owners have been unable to get access to their records and possessions. We’ve been too prepared to accept the official line that the ordinary Joe should step back and wait for the right people to handle matters.

    I just think this current cleanup and rebuild is too big and too longlasting for us to let politicians to handle it. The portaloo shortage (etc etc) should serve as a reminder that we should not wait for our lords and masters to do the jobs we should jump in and do ourselves.

    And as for using Australian police to keep Kiwis out of their own offices..I better stop talking now…

  15. The Christchurch hit on the economy is just one too many, and this time the financial realities are more than JK can manipulate. None of us have any spare cash, and it is going to take a very long time and heaps of $ to rebuild Christchurch.

    Greengeek, and how is this any different to the situation that Forbes faced this time eighty years ago? Two large towns had just been flattened by an earthquake, export prices were falling like a stone and unemployment was going through the roof. Yet, Napier and Hastings were rebuilt, and most of the infrastructure projects that were halted at that time were recommended within the next half decade (the exception was the Nelson Railway which after construction halted in 1932 never saw construction start up again).

    Remember, you cannot always think in a recessionary mindset – there will be a recovery, and that recovery will help.

  16. greengeek says “it’s not the public contributions I’m critical of.It’s the assumption that politicians should be the ones to decide how much those contributions should be, and how/where they should be spent.”

    We live in a democracy. Politicians have always decided how much we are taxed, and what it is spent on.

    Then you talk of man helping fellow man, and leaving Christchurch to fend for itself, in consecutive sentences

  17. photonz, it’s not the public contributions I’m critical of. It’s the assumption that politicians should be the ones to decide how much those contributions should be, and how/where they should be spent.

    John Key seems to me to be an expert at “hypnotising” the electorate into trusting his judgement.

    I don’t think we should allow him to insert his arterial leech into our public financial blood supply in order to direct the cash toward his CBD cronies.

    The effort of the students is a real example of man helping his fellow man, without waiting for despatch/approval to come from our political masters. I reckon leave the rebuild up to the creative instincts of joe public.

  18. greengeek says “Unless of course there are millions of taxpayers who he can “levy” for a contribution.”

    duh !!!

    Everything the government gives to Christchurch is a contribution from taxpayers.

    And you are critical for this. Where do you think they should get the money from instead?

  19. ..whereas as you seem to have already given up…?
    (..quite the ‘defeatist’

    I’m already working very hard for the opposite outcome and never give up. But rose tinted glasses don’t help in this business.

    ..don’t you realise that all of these widely bandied about suppositions…
    ..based on historical patterns…
    ..are all also based on f.p.p..

    I refer to no historical comparisons. Every election is different. we have m.m.p…
    ..and i have been calling one-term-john since shortly after the election…

    Of course I hope you’re right, but I think the math is more difficult than you suppose and minimising the size of the task is the surest way to lose.

  20. The students definitely deserve kudos for their efforts (regardless of their current or future political colours).

    Someone asked if John Key and Bob Parker had done well during this crisis – I think Bob has done as much as a mayor honestly could. He has impressed me.

    John Key on the other hand has made quite a few “promises” about how the government is totally behind the Christchurch recovery and etc etc blah blah blah.

    This is all just more Pike River Promises as far as I can see.

    He is a great grandstander but short on delivery. Unless of course there are millions of taxpayers who he can “levy” for a contribution. It’s an easy job when you can dump the load, slice by tiny slice, on millions of contributors. That has been JK’s modus operandi forever. Split the difference, put a good shine on it, and wait for inflation to minimise the damage. Bank the profits.

    Well guess what? The Christchurch hit on the economy is just one too many, and this time the financial realities are more than JK can manipulate. None of us have any spare cash, and it is going to take a very long time and heaps of $ to rebuild Christchurch.

    In fact, unless the government yokes us all for the next 30 years (probably already have…) then a large part of Christchurch simply cannot be rebuilt.

    It’s important to face that reality and admit that some people are going to lose out bigtime.

    Nature can be a bitch.

    Is there any reason why those who cannot afford a house should be taxed to restore those who had lovely homes built on unstable ground?

    Or any reason why corporate offices should receive encouragement to rebuild as they were?

    Don’t get me wrong – I have every sympathy with those whose lives are smashed – but I am totally against politicians promising the earth when the actual cash does not come from them. It comes from us – whether we are workers, beneficiaries, business owners, or anyone else.

    I’m happy to pay a levy to improve the situation of those who have suffered, but lets not promise or imply that their circumstances are going to be restored to the way they were. That’s not what we should aim for.

    Christchurch is NZ’s New Orleans. Neither the government, nor the personalities within it are up to the task of staring nature down and rebuilding what used to be.

    There is a good reason why traditional societies around the “Pacific Ring of Fire” built homes using natural fibre rather than stone. Live in harmony with nature or pay a price. If the Chch CBD gets rebuilt then it needs to be different, and it needs to be affordable.

    The students have done what they can, and done a lot to restore daily functionality to the residents of Christchurch. Do we really need to resort to some form of martial law and lockdown as a way forward? Where do the authorities get off keeping ordinary Canatbrians out of their own city centre?

    Let the ordinary citizens get on with life as they see fit. JK, Gerry and co need to stop thinking they can mastermind our way out of this. It’s just too big and they need to stop pretending it’s all under their control.

  21. phil asks “haven’t i seen you at kiwiblog…?”


    Rimu – thanks for the links. They have have reports from the dominion post that $750,000 was misappropriated from student, and a 2009 story from Heather Roys website
    “According to an article in today’s ‘Press’ newspaper, former CPSA office manager Helen Lenihan has been sentenced to 22 months in prison for stealing $175,000 from the association – $125,000 of which was unrecoverable. The CPSA case is just the latest in a series of thefts or misuses of funds from student associations throughout the country.

    ‘December 1999 – Brendan McQuillan, president of Nelson Polytechnic Student Association, admitted stealing $8,004. November 2003 – Florence bailey, office manager of Massey Students Association, jailed for two years and three months after stealing $203,000. November 2005 – Victoria University Maori Student Association treasurer Wi Nepia jailed for stealing $161,000. 2005 – Otago University’s Te Roopu Maori, the Maori students’ association collapsed amid allegations of financial impropriety. Estimated fraud $21,000. April 2007 – Clelia Opie, officer of Victoria University Students’ Association, spends $6,000 on phone calls.”

    So one story on one Act MPs website two years ago makes if a “favoured position?

    However it begs the question, as there is such a high level of fraud in student associations, swhat is the best way of stopping it?

  22. @greenfly 7:07 PM

    Froggy – your blog is crashing Firefox.

    I’m using Firefox as my browser, and haven’t had a problem.

  23. “…I’ve never heard ACT or National say that – ever – not once…”

    haven’t i seen you at kiwiblog…?


  24. “..Most people just don’t think like you – never noticed that before?..”

    yeah..most are only reacting to the moment… yr good self…

    ..we are at the beginning of act one..of a three act play…

    ..i don’t know how it ends.. you..?

    and i repeat…it is most certainly not his to lose.. is really far too close to call…

    ..but i am leaning to a lab/grns/mp/hone-party outcome…

    ..whereas as you seem to have already given up…?

    (..quite the ‘defeatist’

    ..don’t you realise that all of these widely bandied about suppositions…

    ..based on historical patterns…

    ..are all also based on f.p.p.. we have m.m.p…

    ..and i have been calling one-term-john since shortly after the election…

    ..for all the reasons that are now coming to pass..(earthquake excepted..)

    ..the righties at kiwiblog wd laugh at that very idea back then..

    ..but now…any laughter has a hard/brittle edge…

    ..cos’ most of them …like me…can do basic math…


  25. Photonz1 – Revealed!

    * Headline seen on poster at sleazy corner dairy

    I’m gob-smacked this time photonz1, slapped-about by incredulity at your 5:58 claim.
    I’m also a little rattled by Rimu’s overly-generous effort in countering your puerile request

  26. Gareth claims he’s heard over and over “The image of the lazy, selfish, and drunk student or the inept and corrupt student association so favoured of ACT and National Party”

    I’ve never heard ACT or National say that – ever – not once.

    If you’ve heard that so many times, perhaps you could give some links to where National and ACT have said that.

    Links to half a dozen examples may convince us you haven’t just made this up to try to score points from the disaster.

  27. Good grief. I am getting weary of the faux outrage of anyone deemed ‘politicising’ the earthquake. Usually the catchcall of right-ringers using it as just another way of attacking anyone from any other political leaning – using it as a kind of political pointscoring in itself. How clever.

    I also observe the hypocricy of those who becry ‘don’t censor me!’ (for what was apparently an admin error), but spare no pause of breath before they lambast a poltician for making a personal comment on a poltical blog, and who say among other nonsensical things, that he has no right to talk about such things.

    And maybe I can offer another perspective on this matter. I have a nephew who worked as part of the VSA most of last week. He told me about the amazing sense of comradery among the student volunteers, most of whom did not know eachother. And another popular point of discussion? How PROUD they felt to be doing something to contribute to a POSTIVE image of students and youth, as the common sentiment is they are often portrayed UNFAIRLY by (certain) politicians and the media.

    So, I see Gareth’s comment as reflecting thoughts of some of those in the VSA itself. Or are they too not entitled to talk about such things, in fear of ‘politicising’ their charity?

  28. The British USAR team leader says he’s been to dozens of disasters around the world – first world and third world – and he’s never seen such good organisation as in NZ.

    phil says “..the civil defence/police/parker leadership have been woefully incompetent/inept..”

    Hmmmm…who to beleive?

    The UK expert who is one of the most experienced disaster rescue workers in the world?

    Or smokey phil? (who has been involved in the organisation of how many international disasters?)

  29. Extremely wishful thinking, phil. Most people just don’t think like you – never noticed that before? Key was incredibly popular before the earthquake. Then he had a really bad week just before, only to have another statesman-like opportunity thrust upon him. It’s always possible to blow it, but this is entirely his to lose.

  30. “..The earthquake has almost certainly secured Key another term in office…”

    what makes you think that… my mind…the workers on this earthquake are the heroes/oines’..

    ..the civil defence/police/parker leadership have been woefully incompetent/inept..

    …why do you think big gezza has turned up..steaming..

    ..and taking control of everything away from those who have muddled thru until now..?

    ..because they have done so well..?

    it is because of the disorganisation behind the scenes…

    (..that two expert rescue-teams weren’t allowed into ‘the cordon’/to work..

    ..’cos they had no ‘un-accreditation’..just acres of well-documented experience in their fields..just does my head

    ..and is but one example of that eye-watering incompetence..

    ..(and that civil defence dude hasn’t got a fucken clue..!

    ..he is a form-filler/process-follower..

    ..any lateral-thinking has been noted for its’ absence.. the handling of the aftermath in christchurch..)

    ..and parker is like a junkie in heroin/media-heaven..

    ..having spent far too much of his time being oily/unctuous to camera…

    ..brownlee is there because key is astute enough to sense the coming/swelling (well-deserved)backlash…

    (he’s probably brought forward those redecoration plans for the compound in key..) a cert..?..ya reckon..?


  31.’s only rightwing trolls ..(those that can do basic maths..)..panicking ‘cos they realise they will likely lose the next election..

    With all due respect Phil, prior to the earthquake, I was wondering if Key had made a mistake by having an election that late in the year (and after the Rugby World Cup). The earthquake has almost certainly secured Key another term in office.

  32. I stand by my comment that the VSA through their amazing example show those negative stereotypes aren’t true.

    But does it?
    I guess it is possible the only students that get up to shenanigans are the ones I know.

    Gareth, doing good this week doesn’t excuse the bad done last week or buy a pass for next week.
    All this proves is that when the chips are down, the students did the right thing, and they deserve respect as they have earned it.
    The reality is some of the stereotypical issues you raise (wow, another earthquake!) are actually backed up by some pretty compelling evidence.

  33. “..The image of the lazy, selfish, and drunk student or the inept and corrupt student association so favoured of ACT and National Party arguments is well and truly busted…”

    there is nothing to have to apologise for in that aside/statement… is a fact…’s only rightwing trolls ..(those that can do basic maths..)..panicking ‘cos they realise they will likely lose the next election..

    …so they are lashing out…

    ..and they are going to get positively incandescent between now and november.. you wanted to apologise for all the dead animal skins you wear..

    ..that’d be appropriate..

    …but not for this..


  34. Very interesting reading the comments and thanks for sharing your opinions.

    I apologise if people take offence, or see it as political point-scoring that wasn’t my intention. It’s a pity my comments have detracted from the excellent work of the VSA.

    The VSA are legends and doing a great job. I think it’s fantastic the public is supporting the VSA, political members and supporters across the political spectrum are involved and getting their hands dirty, and the media have rightly focused on the amazing job the VSA has done.

    It’s great the positive role of students and student associations are being celebrated and my controversial comment was simply a personal opinion that I think too often students and student associations are victims of negative stereotyping from the right. To clarify my point I’ve heard over and over how corrupt student associations are yet here they are playing an important role in Christchurch through the VSA.

    I stand by my comment that the VSA through their amazing example show those negative stereotypes aren’t true.

  35. I don’t generally long for Helen, but I’d prefer her to John to deal with Christchurch. All those good ideas people have had here about building a sustainable city would have more of a chance with Clark than Key. I hope I turn out to be wrong, but any one here betting that Key and Brownlee will be the ones to build the first green city in Aotearoa?.

    As for Parker, I’ve talked even to Nats who say he is just a tv puppet who has done little since the first earthquake while the other affected councils have worked hard. Apparently, the CCC hasn’t even discussed the recovery with community boards and local business is pissed at the lack of progress. This is all anecdotal, but you can bet the same wouldn’t be said of Jim Anderton if he were mayor.

  36. “..Well Phil; why don’t you tell us what YOU would do in Key or Parker’s position…”

    how long ya got…?


  37. Well Phil; why don’t you tell us what YOU would do in Key or Parker’s position. Sniping from the sidelines is easy; actually DOING something is another matter again.

  38. “..And for the record, what is Bob Parker and John Key doing so wrong at the moment?..”

    how long have you got..?


  39. And for the record, what is Bob Parker and John Key doing so wrong at the moment? What the hell would it take for a little bit of support at an incredibly difficult time?
    No one is asking anyone to vote for them, just to realise that 200 people are likely dead, our second biggest city largely destroyed, and there are bigger fish to fry than student relations with the right!.

  40. They most definitely are more enlightened, but are not incapable of making mistakes.

    Slater and Farrar and their mates are the extremists. We should not chase their approval.

  41. “..Possibly Frog can check what the highest count previously was..”

    wasn’t it russell norman when he tried to defend the green mp’s voting in favour of making big gezza a dictator…?


  42. Ok then Valis, but don’t try and pretend that green mps are somehow more enlightened than the rest.
    You want to use the bar the ‘right’ set, then fine.
    Just don’t expect any respect from anyone that isn’t an extremist.

  43. really, really stupid?

    If that’s the worst thing Gareth ever says, I’ll be quite pleased.

    I’m having difficulty getting worked up about this pretty small thing that has the right so spun out. Worst things are said about the Greens every time we’re mentioned on their blogs.

  44. “Have you guys ever thought that maybe all the down ticks are because Gareth said something really, really stupid?”

    It was stupid, but there’s also a concerted attmept by ‘the right’ to attack any comment on post-quake issues that they disagree with by labelling it ‘political’ as if that were a swear word. There’s plenty of politicised comments on the quake coming out from the right too, some particularly stupid (e.g. “we must have open cast mining at Pike River because we need money because of the quake”).

    This is pretty standard paper-clipping politics really – the anti-abortion lobby’s been doing it for years. The pro-Palestine lobby used to be prone to such tactics too. But it’s very silly to try and claim its solely a characteristic of ‘the left’.

  45. Have you guys ever thought that maybe all the down ticks are because Gareth said something really, really stupid?
    Ever thought that perhaps (in light of the nation changing events in Chch) people are just a little more intolerant of such nonsense at present?

    It is hardly a conspiracy because people don’t like what he said.
    You should be encouraging him to do his homework next time at the very least.

  46. Having been off frogblog for ages I found it looked different when I returned and I must say I find the facebook link irritating.

    This month’s “NZ PC World” magazine has a “consumer watch” article on p12 entitled “Redefining privacy”, which offers a negative view about the value of Facebook.

    Obviously Facebook has proven invaluable in the organisation of the SVA events, but I don’t like to see it become pervasive in other areas.

    Rational, adult political debate should be kept distinct from chatterbox tweets and the social backslapping that goes on on facebook.

  47. SPC

    ACT and Liberatarians can organise a numerical presence somewhere in society, if not in polls

    Can they?

    I mentioned Astroturf…. I mean it and it could explain the lack of effective comments here.

    They want to look like a grass-roots movement but the PR firms that organize it aren’t grass roots at all…

    I don’t know for sure that this is happening, but it is entirely possible and FB is a perfect tool for it too.

    All the people on FB are real! – Yeah Right!

    So so so… I don’t think we can know anything about anything from the ticks now. At the very least.

    Yes… I remember that with Russel… and it was basically a matter of hoof-in-mouth. I am quite sure there were Greens who downticked his post. A good example of how it probably should work too, because I am sure that a lesson of care was learned. He and Gareth will both likely be a bit more careful how they express things. Never post in anger! A lesson just in time for the campaign season.


  48. I can appreciate a certain wariness on the right about appreciation of student unions given recent legislation and proposals to revisit interest free student debt.

    It must be comforting to some that ACT and Liberatarians can organise a numerical presence somewhere in society, if not in polls. And somewhat
    encouraging for Greens that the right is so touchy at the moment – misrepresentation and distortion are not the usual tactics of a confident political movement.

  49. Inventory – some people, lets say whaleoil, made a response to the last sentence as if he had used the word “and” not the word “or”. It’s not semantics, it’s a matter of comprehension.

    Also others said that Gareth had claimed the students union formed the VSA, whereas that is not in the post.

    That leaves the only real contention being his claim that ACT and National made arguments that student unions were inept or corrupt – presumably this was in the debate about compulsory student unions. This claim is either true or untrue and an MP would have heard the speeches made in parliament by ACT and National MP’s etc.

  50. The thing is, in the history of us having this feature on this blog there have have never been more than 30 ticks for or against anything anyone has said about anything that I remember.

    I can bjchip – there was that thread about cellphone towers where virtually all the Green MPs comments were ticked against. I found it ironic at the time.

    In saying that, prior to last night, there would have been enough ticks against some of the pro-Green posts that they were hidden from view.

  51. Inventory2 –

    I am happy to engage in reasoned debate on almost any day, and I know there are always more lurkers than posters.

    The thing is, in the history of us having this feature on this blog there have have never been more than 30 ticks for or against anything anyone has said about anything that I remember. Possibly Frog can check what the highest count previously was, but if there was anything that high it would have been a single comment.


  52. That’s why bj welcomed them above. What we’re arguing about is whether the sudden rush of ticks is so significant as the visitors who made them claim.

  53. BJ – my blog gets comments at a ratio of between 1/10 visits and 1/50 visits on any given day,. There are a lot more “lurkers” than people who actually feel compelled to comment, and given that the Like or Dislike option is available to anyone who visits, their relationship to comments is tenuous at best.

    But look on the bright side; a few righties have engaged here today, and that’s got to be a good thing – doesn’t it?

  54. We just about never get 39 ticks despite debating things all the time that far surpass Gareth’s relatively tame comment. No, the people you resonate with are those that followed you here.

  55. Inventory2 – kudos for being a real person here… but having more people ticking than there are comments on the thread is sort of telling too. What it tells us is we aren’t getting opinions from people who are part of the community here. Considering that the process involves time shifts that suggest US involvement I have to simply discount them entirely.


  56. FWIW, I haven’t “liked” or “disliked” any comment on this thread more than once; I have better things to do with my time. But given that my first offering on Frogblog from almost 24 hours ago now has a quotient of plus 39 suggests that it may have resonated with someone 🙂

  57. Well frog, you may have noticed above that I made the same claim and for the same reasons as you site – I’m sure this sort of thing has happened before. But I also took my comment back after it was most rudely pointed out that the post was being discussed far and wide. I simply hadn’t looked before posting, but as it was on two popular right-wing blogs at least, it is certainly feasible that a bunch of irregulars have visited recently.

    Which doesn’t make hobbit’s comment any less ridiculous, of course.

  58. hobbit:

    The amount of “likes” and “dislikes” on comments is very telling.

    The “likes” and “dislikes” can be subverted by even one person connecting and disconencting to the net repeatedly with different IP addresses each time.

    Some time ago I sprung one commenter who hasn’t been here for a while (but notably appears on this thread) doing exactly that – he left a trail of comments on the thread concerned; all posted from different IP addresses, that coincided with the period of a big “dislike” push against pro-Green commenters.

    I won’t reveal his frogblog pseudonym here – but Matt, I’m sure you know I’m talking about you.

    I suspect something similar has happened on this thread. I really don’t know why people bother. If you disagree with a comment, fine to give it the thumbs down. But to go to the hassle of logging in and out with 20 or more different IP addresses just to magnify your disagreement is pretty pathetic and juvenile.

  59. @ SPC – we can argue semantics until we’re both blue in the face. Bottom line from my pov is this; had Hughes stopped one paragraph short, his post would have had pretty much universal acclaim. But politicians – even newbies – can’t resist saying one more paragraph, and in this instance, the extra paragraph was Hughes’ undoing.

  60. Hobbit…

    This is Astroturf grass roots… it doesn’t tell anything at all given that there aren’t any actual comments by this multitude. Chances that there are several false persona involved are at least 50-50. Happens all the time now.

    People (if they are even people) who aren’t capable of reading OR writing trying to impose their idiocy on us?

    Hobbit… at least you’re a real person. Fine of you to drop by…


  61. I used to tick that thing to hide it. It doesn’t go away though. I rather gave up on it as something I can’t really get rid of.

    The crashes however, seem more recent. I don’t remember them before about 2-3 days ago. Since it is event driven I can’t be sure of a start point. Always at the point of hitting the submit button on a post for me.


  62. The amount of “likes” and “dislikes” on comments is very telling. Not a good look, lefties..

  63. When did the crashing start? When the facebook comments feature was added? If you click ‘hide the facebook comments’ link does the crashing stop?

  64. farrar used to have a down-tick/up-tick system..

    ..and i used to get some heroic numbers of down-ticks..

    ..but the things changed..

    ..and i started getting as many ups as downs…

    ..farrar then disabled his system…

    ..he never said why…


  65. Interesting that the trolls are downticking technical information as well.

    A clear indication that they are incapable of actually reading.

  66. Yes Phil… good spot. I have had the crashes too. Firefox exits just as I post, it crashes out completely. When I come back the comment is in. Facebook linkage… I have not even tried it. I regard facebook as I would a plague. – BJ

  67. Something is up with the Facebook comments feature. Comments are there one minute and gone the next.

    Grrr relying on third party services. So handy, but it makes you powerless to fix problems.

  68. I see the whole issue as sensitivity on the right about going into an election with new policy on WFF and interest free student debt. As various pro National fronts are indicating support for using the earthquake to justify a change in policy in these two areas – there is disquiet about a levy being seen as an acceptable alternative.

    Whaleoil’s misrepresentation, follows up David Farrar going onto Red Alert seeking to divide Labour from Greens over the issue of a levy to fund the rebuild. Virtually seeking to reduce Labour to merely opposing National suggestions but to offer none of their own at this “inappropriate time” – rendering them as ineffective and seeminly unable to offer any alternative of their own.

  69. PS I don’t like to lecture, but the difference between the word “and” the word “or” separates the comments in the last sentence into two parts with only the second part referring to the ACT and National arguments (on ending compulsory student associations).

  70. Inventory, what clear jibe at the right?

    1. The comment about public perception of students is twofold – they are usually in the media over issues of SA advocacy and the annual drinking events. That media coverage has nothing to do with the right. Whereas the VSA is positive publicity that occurs more rarely.
    2. The portrayal of student associations as inept and corrupt made by ACT and National arguments – is a reference to their party support for the end of compulsory student associatons and the “arguments” made in support of this policy.

    You see this as offensive to the right? Is it not just fair blog media comment about a past issue. If the right wants to seen as on the side of student associations they have to do something affirmative.

  71. @Valis you’re an idiot. This is not a few people posting a number of times, this blog entry has been posted everywhere. It was simply a retarded thing to say.

  72. In the meantime I find it impossible to log into Whaleoil’s blog to see what manner of hell I have raised for him.

    “…a half truth is a whole lie” – Yiddish proverb.

    …or he has technical problems. Which is possible. My recent registration on the site was accompanied by a real problem with the site allowing me to get at the profile to change the password. Not his doing.

    Tried clearing cache and cookies and the other standard tricks… nothing doing.

    Anyone else have trouble getting in there?


  73. The thing that does annoy me is that Gareth did something I don’t agree with in general, and that is he imputed an underlying attitude to NACT followers. Raised all manner of hell.

    My experience has always been:

    1. You do NOT know what the other guy is thinking, or why. Even when he tells you stuff you don’t know what is behind it.

    2. It is always a mistake to slag people off until they say or do something to deserve it. National offers no shortage of that. Then say what they did or said and make it clear. A vague non-sequiter offered at the end of a post is simply poor style.

    3. Never criticize why they think what they think unless THEY offer it up in discussion. Can’t touch it. Hard enough to get at what they think from what they say and vice-versa.

    Communication between humans is unusual enough… accurate communication is almost unimaginably rare.


  74. two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Sure, so why commit the second wrong?

    Trust people to fill in the gaps and you might even earn their respect.

    So you agree with Gareth, then.

  75. So what Valis? two wrongs don’t make a right.
    If one is going to take the position of moral high ground (as Gareth has done) then one needs to first be standing on high ground!
    Seriously Gareth, earn it first and people will listen.

  76. The sad thing is, if Gareth had have left out the last sentence he would have gained credibility and respect, but no, he had to do the thinking for us.
    Why is it so common for left wing politicians to try and control our reaction?
    Trust people to fill in the gaps and you might even earn their respect.

  77. Getting slated by someone like Slater and a bunch of clowns so unsure of them selves they have use down ticks to pretend there are more of them than there actually are – is hardly a hiding. They just look pathetic.

  78. Inventory2

    It is indeed a clear jibe at the right and the right has earned any such jibe by using the disaster, in accordance with “shock doctrine” to attack student loans and WFF. Which is a hell of a political thing to be doing.

    Moreover, Cameron Slater LIED with both the title of his blog entry and its contents, as you can clearly see here that what Gareth posted did not slag off the leadership of the VSA/SVA. He slagged off the National Party and ACT. Which is simply something we do here.

    You don’t like getting any sort of dose of your own medicine? Too bad.


  79. Bjchip – your clarity of thought and ability to understand an issue shines like a lit magnesium tape in the fuggy fog of right-wing thinking as demonstrated by our frenzied and dim visitors this morning. I despair that they cannot see it, despite your kind efforts to disabuse them of their wrong-headed views.

  80. There is a factoid behind the rhetoric though.

    I’m now in my 50s, but recall decades ago my parents generation stating that my generation (the second batch of long hairs) that we weren’t made of the right stuff, and that if a war came along now the country would be stuffed as all these layabouts wouldn’t be able to get past their peace signs, and would just sit on their arses.

    What the SVA (of whom I’m incredibly proud) has proved beyond any shadow of a doubt is that the younger generation(s) are made of “the right stuff”, and when the plate needs to be stepped up to, they will step up.

    They have also iullustrated the power of modern communications methods: one everyday person with a great idea has the power at his/her fingertips to change the world for the better.


    (And, drifting, this is why we don’t need to rebuild the CBD, becasue we already have a bigger, better, functioning CBD, on a global scale with local reach – its called the Internet).

  81. @ SPC – what part of

    The image of the lazy, selfish, and drunk student or the inept and corrupt student association so favoured of ACT and National Party arguments is well and truly busted.

    is unambiguous SPC? This was a clear jibe at the right by Mr Hughes, and he has been rightly (no pun intended) pinged for it. That’s a shame, because I agreed with pretty much everything else in his post except the closing paragraph, as I have noted here:

  82. Anonymous drive-by downticks ?

    From when I posted to now the count says you aren’t from NZ. 0230 to 0730 draws no Kiwi eyeballs at all.

    Disproving your thesis and showing your gormless hypocrisy IS something you’d object to.

    I suggest that you try actually working out how and why it is that you’ve been made to look so foolish.

    or can you even post a response? …perhaps that is beyond the capabilities of your ‘bot programming?


  83. Gents

    This IS a political blog. So it should not surprise you that it contains politics.

    It is not in general a censored blog. It has spam filters that are capricious at times and it has been upgraded recently (and I would not have called it an “UP”grade) to connect to facebook. How it will be behaving is not something I care to predict.

    The immediate jump-to conclusion from Whaleoil and yourselves, is “censorship”. I’m annoyed that you got caught up in a hiccup of the new SW and that’s got nothing to do with your opinions.

    I am however, also annoyed with your opinions ( which is obviously why you came over here to talk about stuff, to annoy us right? 🙂 ), so on topic here….

    The first question is whether the GENERAL observation of what appears to Gareth and others here, to be the attitude of the National Party towards students, is in any way mitigated by the specific example of some National party members who happen to be students?

    I think it is not. The ownership of the ACT and National parties has consistently done all it can to make students and faculty miserable. The student leading the VSA(SVA) could be from the dark side of the moon without affecting that observation. Questioning whether Gareth is correct about that being an image that is held by the majority of the party is another thing. I am not sure he’s right about it myself. Such an image isn’t required to do “bad things” to the students.

    However, it isn’t a comment that has anything to do with the ChCh disaster. We always slag NACT.

    Which should be no surprise at all. Whaleoil is being a bit too precious. He is making a connection that doesn’t exist, and some of you have followed his illogic.

    Say a lot of good things about the VSA work in ChCh. (not problematical and is linked to ChCh ).

    Then say that it makes the students look better than some supposed stereotype held by most NACT supporters. This is NOT linked to ChCh… nor an insult to the leader of the VSA (whoever he/she is). It parses as a compliment to that person. Reading comprehension fail.

    Is the notion that we’re supposed to all unite for the duration of the emergency then???

    I’d not noticed a slackened rate of politicking, what with National applying “Shock Doctrine” principles to immediately attempt to justify cuts to WFF and interest free student loans – which seems to me to be a rather more direct and real descent into politicizing the disaster, as well as an indication of how they actually do feel about students.

    Is it one rule for NACT and another rule for Greens?

    Gareth was quite restrained actually, as your lot are actually proposing changes that can be nothing but ideologically driven and will quite definitely HURT students.

    I’d suggest getting your own house in order before coming over here to make ill-reasoned assertions about our musings about the reasons for your ACTUAL policy proposals which are being justified by referring back to the disaster.

    You’re welcome to visit but you may be mistaken about your actual role in the ecology of the blog when/if you do…


  84. Obviously there is a right wing smear campaign at work to silence the left. The left politicising the disaster …, virtually the only person on this thread not politicising it was Gareth.

    As for misrepresentation, no where in his post was it said that the Canterbury Student Association launched the VSA, just Canterbury students.

    No where did he say that ACT and National portrayed students as lazy, drunk and selfish (he implied a public perception – possibly based on their union advocacy, and their annual occasions getting media attention) – his only disputable claim was that ACT and National portrayed student associations as inept and or corrupt when passing legislation against their being compulsory.

    And one suspects there is evidence to support his claims from comments by ACT and National MP’s and others supporting the legislation. Given he weas an MP following the debate more closely than most of us.

    So one really does wonder, how political some of those commenting here have to be to twist all of this to a point of building an elaborate strawman and what is motivating them to such an attack line?

  85. Gareth says “The image of the lazy, selfish, and drunk student or the inept and corrupt student association so favoured of ACT and National Party arguments is well and truly busted.”

    Gareth – you have some great ideas for insulation and heating standards for rental housing, then you come up with total nonsense like this which undermines your own credibility.

    And makes you look like you are using a national tradgedy to score cheap political points.

    What a disgrace.

  86. Toad,

    I have no idea what you are trying to imply.

    I read most blogs I consider relevant to what is happening in NZL, even Bomber Bradbury, Whaleoil and Bowalley Road.

    Being nice has nothing to do with it. Being informed has everything to do with it.

    I know frog has been updating the site and it is not unreasonable that technical issues have caused temporary deletions of posts coming through facebook.

    So am content for now to take frogs word for a technical problem arising some 3 or 4 days after the site upgrade.

    Hence my question regarding the deletions, not a rant against censorship.

  87. This is really not a nice post. I liked the Facebook comments by Andrew and Oliver above.
    you should remove the post or offending comments, make an apology and let it pass Mr Hughes otherwise you clearly aren’t acting in the spirit of Christchurch and New Zealand.

  88. @Gerrit 9:37 PM

    Gerrit, I know we often disagree politically, but you seem to be a reasonable and genuinely nice person.

    Which is why I am surprised that you ever go to (let alone believe anything on) Cameron Slater’s blog, which is about as vile and nasty as a political blog could be.

  89. Your comments were held in the moderation queue, and for the moment I have no idea why. Given the time of evening, I’m not likely to sort it out tonight, and possibly not tomorrow given my other commitments.

    I read the comments earlier and saw comments which are now not here – it may be that there is some other problem than you think there is.

    [frog: Thanks Graeme – although I’m just the moderator, not the techie whizz, so may take some time to sort out, given the time of day and week.]

  90. Gerrit, IV2 – no, it is not true.

    There was a software update a couple of days ago, and that may have something to do with it.

    Your comments were held in the moderation queue, and for the moment I have no idea why. Given the time of evening, I’m not likely to sort it out tonight, and possibly not tomorrow given my other commitments. But I will check the moderation queue occasionally to release any comments trapped there.

    Sorry, it is a technical issue, not an editorial one.

  91. @Gerrit, I have posted earlier here from my facebook and it was deleted. I have basically said the same thing in my comment on the page (still awaiting moderation) so make up your mind whether it deserved deletion?

  92. Oh dear. A funny thing happens when you get your facts wrong Gareth; people notice. And an even funnier thing happens when you try to cover your tracks; people talk about it.

    It’s time for a tactical withdrawl and an apology methinks …

  93. What an awful article Gareth, The head of the VSA is a National party members, so clearly the preconseptions around young people are with you, not with the National party.

    As for the Nats across New Zealand, we are organising a number of fundraising activities, including auction, photo exhibits, and taking around buckets for Christchurch (why didn’t the Greens collect at their O-week?) Also note Jacinda Ardern refused to donate just because we were Young Nats…

    We have Nats on the ground in Christchuch every day, and we are giving money and supplies from across the country.

    Why would you try and make politics out of this, you are either very foolish, or lacking any level of integrity.

    PS why removing posts which point out what I have just pointed out? You are in the wrong, so just take it.

  94. If only the unemployed had a way to socialize there actions like the student union has done. They are disjointed and no way to connect with one another.

Comments are closed.