Category Archives: New Zealand

Silicon Valley Super-Rich Head south to Escape from a Global Apocalypse

Hayden Donnell reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Global Apocalypse new zealandAt the Republican party convention in Cleveland last July, Trump donor Peter Thiel declared himself ‘“most of all, proud to be an American”. So it came as something of a surprise for New Zealanders to discover that the PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member had become an honorary Kiwi – joining a growing band of wealthy Americans seeking a haven from a possible global apocalypse.

Thiel was recently revealed to have bought a £4.5m lakeside property near the New Zealand town of Wanaka in 2015. When New Zealand Herald reporter Matt Nippert asked why Thiel had been allowed to buy land that appears to fit the classification of “sensitive” without permission from the country’s Overseas Investment Office, he was told it wasn’t necessary – Thiel was already a citizen.

The revelation was met with confusion. By the time of his appearance at the Republican convention, Thiel had already bought 193 hectares of pristine South Island land using his rights as a Kiwi. Politicians asked why a billionaire most famous for adamantly supporting Donald Trump and bankrolling the lawsuits that bankrupted Gawker Media had been allowed not only to buy land in New Zealand, but to make the country part of his future and identity. Winston Peters, leader of the New Zealand First party, accused the National government of “selling citizenship” to foreigners.

Thiel, who retains his American citizenship, in fact became a joint US-New Zealand citizen in 2011 and has described the country as “Utopia”, investing heavily in business start-ups.



The Dark Side of the New Zealand Dairy Industry

Animal welfare organisations SAFE and Farmwatch set up hidden cameras across 12 farms and a slaughter house in New Zealand. Here’s what they discovered. (SAFE and Farmwatch)

The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘Just as the Bush administration and the U.S. media re-labelled “torture” with the Orwellian euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” to make it more palatable, the governments and media of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance are now attempting to re-brand “mass surveillance” as “bulk collection” in order to make it less menacing (and less illegal). In the past several weeks, this is the clearly coordinated theme that has arisen in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the last defense against the Snowden revelations, as those governments seek to further enhance their surveillance and detention powers under the guise of terrorism.

This manipulative language distortion can be seen perfectly in yesterday’s white-washing report of GCHQ mass surveillance from the servile rubber-stamp calling itself “The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament (ISC)”(see this great Guardian Editorial this morning on what a “slumbering” joke that “oversight” body is). As Committee Member MP Hazel Blears explained yesterday (photo above), the Parliamentary Committee officially invoked this euphemism to justify the collection of billions of electronic communications events every day.

The Committee actually acknowledged for the first time (which Snowden documents log ago proved) that GCHQ maintains what it calls “Bulk Personal Datasets” that contain “millions of records,” and even said about pro-privacy witnesses who testified before it: “we recognise their concerns as to the intrusive nature of bulk collection.” That is the very definition of “mass surveillance,” yet the Committee simply re-labelled it “bulk collection,” purported to distinguish it from “mass surveillance,” and thus insist that it was all perfectly legal.’


New Zealand Spies on Neighbors in Secret ‘Five Eyes’ Global Surveillance

Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Documents Shine Light on Shadowy New Zealand Surveillance Base‘New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency is spying on its neighbors and sharing communications it intercepts in bulk with the National Security Agency through a controversial Internet mass surveillance system, according to newly revealed secret documents.

Government Communications Security Bureau, New Zealand’s equivalent of the NSA, has been sweeping up the data from across the Asia-Pacific region, targeting island nations such as Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga and France’s overseas territories New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Each of these small nations and territories maintains friendly relations with New Zealand.

The surveillance, reported Wednesday by the New Zealand Herald in collaboration with The Intercept, is being carried out by GCSB from an intelligence base in New Zealand’s Waihopai Valley.’


Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain win U.N. Security Council seats, Turkey bid fails

Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau report for Reuters:

‘Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, New Zealand and Spain won seats on the United Nations Security Council on Thursday for two years from Jan. 1, 2015. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly elected Venezuela with 181 votes, Malaysia with 187 votes, Angola with 190 votes.

All three countries campaigned unopposed for their seats after being chosen as the candidates for their respective regional groups, but still needed to win the votes of two-thirds of the General Assembly to secure their spots.

The only contest was between New Zealand, Spain and Turkey for two seats given to the Western European and others group. New Zealand won a seat during the first round of voting with 145 votes. Spain beat Turkey in a third round of run-off voting.’


New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents

Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher report for The Intercept:

Featured photo - New Zealand Cops Raided Home of Reporter Working on Snowden Documents‘Agents from New Zealand’s national police force ransacked the home of a prominent independent journalist earlier this month who was collaborating with The Intercept on stories from the NSA archive furnished by Edward Snowden. The stated purpose of the 10-hour police raid was to identify the source for allegations that the reporter, Nicky Hager, recently published in a book that caused a major political firestorm and led to the resignation of a top government minister.

But in seizing all the paper files and electronic devices in Hager’s home, the authorities may have also taken source material concerning other unrelated stories that Hager was pursuing. Recognizing the severity of the threat posed to press freedoms from this raid, the Freedom of the Press Foundation today announced a global campaign to raise funds for Hager’s legal defense.’


‘Dotcom brand is poisoned’: Internet Party crashes in NZ elections

RT reports:

Kim Dotcom (Reuters/Nigel Marple)‘A coalition of anti-establishment politicians and internet freedom advocates led by entrepreneur Kim Dotcom – who promised to shake up New Zealand politics – suffered a humiliating defeat at the country’s parliamentary elections.

The Internet-Mana party gained just 26,500 votes – 1.3 percent of the total, and short of the five percent needed to cross the parliament threshold. With half the parliament seats contested through proportional representation, and half in a first-past-the-post local election, the party also lost its only previous locally elected MP, Hone Harawira, who couldn’t hold onto his seat.’


New Zealand Launched Mass Surveillance Project While Publicly Denying It

Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher report for The Intercept:

Featured photo - New Zealand Launched Mass Surveillance Project While Publicly Denying It‘The New Zealand spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), worked in 2012 and 2013 to implement a mass metadata surveillance system even as top government officials publicly insisted no such program was being planned and would not be legally permitted.

Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the government worked in secret to exploit a new internet surveillance law enacted in the wake of revelations of illegal domestic spying to initiate a new metadata collection program that appeared designed to collect information about the communications of New Zealanders. Those actions are in direct conflict with the assurances given to the public by Prime Minister John Key, who said the law was merely designed to fix “an ambiguous legal framework” by expressly allowing the agency to do what it had done for years, that it “isn’t and will never be wholesale spying on New Zealanders,” and the law “isn’t a revolution in the way New Zealand conducts its intelligence operations.”’


Kim Dotcom launches political party in New Zealand

From BBC News:

Kim Dotcom interviewed by reportersKim Dotcom, whose site MegaUpload was shut down by US authorities in 2012, has formally launched a political party in New Zealand.

The Internet Party was a “movement for the freedom of the internet and technology, for privacy and political reform”, the tycoon said.

New Zealand goes to the polls in September.

Mr Dotcom is fighting extradition to the US over charges of copyright infringement on a “massive scale”.


New Zealand PM: Time for a New Flag

Rob Quinn writes for Newser:

A supporter of New Zealand waves a flag as the Emirates Team New Zealand yacht returns to Port America's Cup.The era of British colonialism is over and it’s about time New Zealand adopted a flag without a Union Jack on it, says Prime Minister John Key. “The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom,” he said yesterday, announcing that a referendum on a new flag will be held within three years, the BBC reports. “I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag,” he said.

“We should be represented by a flag that is distinctly New Zealand’s; a flag that is only New Zealand’s,” Key said, noting that Canada ditched its Union Jack-dominated flag for the maple leaf in 1965. He said it was important for the public to have input on new designs, though his preference is for the silver fern design used by the country’s national sports teams, reports the New Zealand Herald. Polls, however, show that most New Zealanders are happy to keep the current flag, with veterans’ organizations firmly opposed to ditching the flag that tens of thousands fought and died under.


New Zealand: Maori king snubs British royals claiming he’s “not a carnival act”

From Descrier:

New Zealand Maori ceremonyNew Zealand’s Maori King Tuheitia has refused to meet Prince William and Catherine during their royal tour of the country next month, saying that he is “not some carnival act to be rolled out at the beck and call of anyone”.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be visiting New Zealand on 7-16 April with their young son George, but King Tuheitia’s office rejected the offer to meet with them, arguing the 90 minutes allotted is not long enough to observe the proper protocols.

Prime Minister John Key said he was disappointed by the snub, but King Tuheitia’s office blamed it on the inflexibility of “faceless bureaucrats” who organised the trip, and that they were not prepared to compromise their customs to fit into a predetermined schedule.

Kim Dotcom: The Man Behind Megaupload

Judge: Kim Dotcom still being spied on

Kim Dotcom at the Auckland High Court.From The New Zealand Herald:

Kim Dotcom is likely to be under fresh surveillance and to have had phone calls with his lawyer intercepted, the judge hearing the extradition case has found.

The finding, released this afternoon, gives greater substance to claims by the internet tycoon that his phone is being tapped and his calls monitored.

But Dotcom did not get the court ruling he sought, having asked extradition Judge Nevin Dawson to order the United States to rule out any form of surveillance on him.

Dotcom is facing extradition to the United States – along with three others – after the FBI shut down his Megaupload website. The four men face charges of criminal copyright conspiracy.


New Zealand: New candidate keen on moneyless future

Richard OsmastonFrom The Nelson Mail:

St Arnaud farmer Richard Osmaston is pushing his crusade for a moneyless economy by standing for mayor of Nelson.

He is the fourth person to confirm a bid for the top office at Civic House. He will stand against incumbent Aldo Miccio, councillor Rachel Reese and police officer Inspector Brian McGurk.

Mr Osmaston said during his submission to the Nelson City Council annual plan hearings, which started yesterday, that he would stand on the single issue of promoting a “resource-based economy”.

He said he believed in the need for a revolution from a monetary-based economy to a resource-based one, where everything was free and all work was voluntary, because humanity was looking at social breakdown like never before.

“I’m standing for mayor because I think I can make a difference for our future wellbeing.

“We are heading over a cliff – socially, financially, every way you can think of. So far, all anyone has done is address the symptoms, and there are so many now that everyone’s exhausted fighting them.”


Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom set to launch political party in New Zealand

From The Independent:

Kim Dotcom, the flamboyant founder of the now-defunct file-storage website Megaupload, has announced he will launch a political party in New Zealand to contest next year’s elections.

The internet mogul, who is currently fighting attempts to extradite him to the United States on copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering charges, described his political plans on Twitter as ’embryonic’.

Dotcom, who has become a celebrity in New Zealand as a consequence of the protracted legal battle over his extradition, said the unnamed party would launch on January 20th – the second anniversary of an armed police raid on his Auckland mansion.

[…] Aside from indicating that he wants the party to campaign to improve New Zealand’s information technology infrastructure, including “fair Internet pricing and no more data caps”, few policy details have been revealed.

[…] Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz in Germany, is wanted for allegedly making more than $175m (£110m) in illegal profits from online piracy. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is currently on bail and living in his rented $24m pad in New Zealand.

Earlier this year he scored a significant victory after New Zealand police were ordered by the High Court to sift through digital material taken from his home during a raid and return anything irrelevant to their investigation at their own cost. High Court Justice Helen Winkelmann said the seizure of the devices without sorting them first was unlawful.




NZ denies helping US spy on reporter

War correspondent Jon Stephenson gives evidence in his defamation case against Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones in the High Court in Wellington, New Zealand 9 July 2013From BBC News:

New Zealand has denied a report that its military conspired with US spy agencies to monitor a freelance journalist in Afghanistan.

The Sunday Star Times newspaper said that phone data of Jon Stephenson, a New Zealander employed by the US news group McClatchy, was snooped on.

But a top New Zealand military official says there is no evidence of the claim.

It was the first suggestion that recently exposed US spying programmes had been used on specific journalists.


‘Dark ages of spying’: Kim Dotcom lashes out at NZealand surveillance bill ~ RT

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom speaks as he comes face to face for the first time with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key as lawmakers examine a controversial proposal allowing intelligence agencies to spy on local residents at Bowen House in Wellington on July 03, 2013.  (AFP Photo)RT

Tensions between Kim Dotcom and Prime Minister John Key were raised as the pair sparred at a parliamentary committee hearing on the government’s proposed surveillance law, with Dotcom voicing his opposition to the controversial legislation.

The New Zealand government has proposed a change in the law to allow the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCJB) to provide support to the New Zealand Police, Defense Force and the Security Intelligence Service.

Dotcom was voicing his opposition to the law and was the star of the show on the second day of hearings of the secretive Security and Intelligence Committee.

“We should avoid blindly following the US into the dark ages of spying. In the end, the GCSB is just a subsidiary of the (US) National Security Agency and the US government calls all the shots,” he told the committee.

Dotcom went on to urge New Zealanders to repeat their “heroic stance” of the 1980’s when they declared New Zealand nuclear free, by rejecting the proposed bill.