Friday 30 November 2007

Olive Walker II

Some random googling produced something interesting, a newspaper story from 2005 (1), about a cop who was involved in the investigation into the Olive Walker killing, featured in the first season of Sensing Murder (2).

Why is this interesting?

Because I recall a claim, made in that episode, that the Olive Walker case was very obscure, and only one reference to it could be found, in a book dedicated to New Zealand killings.

But this newspaper article gives the lie to that statement. Walker was killed in 1970, but the killing was still significant enough to warrant mention in 2005. The newspaper article states that "The brutal killing was front page news for weeks" (3). So someone researching unsolved deaths would most likely have come across reference to it, in spite of Sensing Murder's claims to the contrary.

Even more interesting is the timing of this newpaper article. It is dated 24th of July, 2005. The Episode of Sensing Murder that examined the Olive Walker case was broadcast in January 2006 (4). This begs the question, when was it actually filmed? Obviously, there would be a gap between the filming and the broadcast, but would that mean the filiming was prior to July 2005? .... Or (suspicious mind working overtime) just immediately after?

I susppose it is conceivable that the story was planted as subliminal publicity for the upcoming show. New Zealand's media establishment is small and cliquey, and it isn't impossible that someone at Ninox knew someone at the Daily Post. But the onus is on Ninox to demonstrate that they filmed before the article was printed.

Even if the episode was filmed prior to the newspaper story, and no-one passed the 'psychics' a complimentary newspaper to read on the plane, the claim that the murder was obscure is shot to pieces. But Sensing Murder making dubious claims is nothing new.

Incidentally, a few months after the broadcast of the Olive Walker episode, Deb Weber returned to Rotorua for a live show in May 2006 (5).Deb Weber wouln't have gone to Rotorua if she hadn't been on Sensing Murder. Her appearance, so soon after the broadcast of the Sensing Murder episode featuring Rotorua, is shameless milking of the publicity that she gained from her appearance on the show. It is exploiting the brutal murder of a teenaged girl.

Olive Walker's killer remains unknown, inspite of Deb's supposed contact with her spirit.

1 - "It's hard to leave behind an unsolved murder - retired cop," by Kelly Blanchard, in the Daily Post, 24th of July, 2005. (
2 - As described previously on lefthandpalm:
3 - Blanchard, op. cit.
4 - The 24th of January, 2006, to be precise. According to, anyway. (
5 - "Popular television psychic heads to Rotorua," unattributed article on the Rotorua District Council website, dated the 13th ofApril, 2006. Yes, I know. Always first with the news, me.(

UPDATE: The administrator of the official Sensing Murder website (6) has advised that the Olive Walker episode was filmed in April 2005 (7). Thus, it pre-dates the Daily Post article. The question still remains about how genuinely obscure the case was, however.

6 -
7 - The administrator's response can be read on the Sensing Murder website, in the sub-forum dedicated tot he Olive Walker case. (

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Sensing Murder: Psychics Revealed

I didn't watch it. I tried to, but there were two issues. Three issues.

First, I was tired. The night before, Lurgee jnr decided to have a BAD NIGHT and by the time he finally decided sleeping was okay (cica 3am), I was too wide awake to sleep. So come yesterday evening, when the Sensing Murder: Psychics Revealed (1) was broadcast, I had been awake for A VERY LONG TIME.

Second, the part that I saw was just an extended promotion for the 'psychics.' I expected numbers for ticket booking lines to appear at the bottom of the screens. Given that I had been awake for A VERY LONG TIME, my willingness to stay up to watch that sort of thing was limited. A detailed profile of the 'psychics,' even one that assumed they were genuine, would have been interesting. But as usual, the Sensing Murder team provided a slick, nasty product with the gravitas of a souffle.

Third, and this by way of bearing out my criticism of the producers, even the short portion I did watch contained two outright untruths. First, they claimed, as they did in the Insight episode, that Nigel Latta was a sceptic. He is or was nothing of the kind. He made clear in the revised edition of his book, Into The Darklands And Beyond (2), that he was ambivalent about the existance of psychic powers. So not a sceptic at all. The other instance also involved Latta. The narrator declared "Nigel Latta is interested in a link between childhood trauma and the development of psychic powers." Cut to Latta, talking about how childhood trauma may make the victim percceive the world as a darker place, and make them more likely to feel negative (3). Nothing about psychic powers at all, or anything to indicate he was saying anything even close to what the narrator suggested he was.

In his book, Latta declared that he had "ideas about playing on a bigger stage" than as a clinical psychologist (4). I didn't realise this meant appearing on Sensing Murder and breakfast TV as a talking head. When he appeared on the Insight episode of Sensing Murder, I thought he had been taken advantage of by the show's producers, to give their shoddy product a veneer of respectability. Into The Darklands And Beyond revealed that he had some sort of long standing commitment to the show - the contacted him to do work for them on the first season, and he was pally enough to call producer Cinna Smith to ask about the show's authenticity (5). And last night he willingly appeared again. So he's witting party to the show, in all its nastiness and dissembling.

I admired Latta for his work with sex offenders and troubled children. But working on breakfast TV and Sensing Murder puts him into the sub-Oprah freakshow category. If he's trying to establish a platform from which to get a message across, he's a fool because he's lost his credibility. If he's doing it simply to promote himself, he should be ashamed (6). On the credit side, he's revised his comments on Sensing Murder to make it clear that he is not endorsing Webber's psychic powers. He complains about the amount of attention paid to his appearance on Sensing Murder, compared to that given to his other work. But that only begs the question, why did he agree to make a second appearance on the show? (7)

1 - 'Sensing Murder: Psychic Revealed,' broadcast by TV2 on Tuesday, 13th of November.
2 - 'Into the Darklands and Beyond,' by Nigel Latta, published by Harper Collins, 2007. Latta described his ambiguous position in the chapter describing his experiences on Sensing Murder.
3 - This is from memory, and not word-for-word, but I am positive that I have represented it fairly. If the producers would care to provide me with an accurate version, I'll be happy to ammend.
4 -'Into the Darklands: Updated Edition' by Nigel Latta, published by Harper Collins, 2005. The quotation is from from the final chapter, "Simple Things," page 301.
5 - As per #2, above.
6 - I'm sure he's quivering at the chastisement I'm handing out here. Interestingly, Latta has a show of his own coming out on TVNZ this year, according to his website ( - as at 14th November 2007.) A year ago I'd have watched it. Now I probably won't bother.
7 - From Latta's website, Goldfish Wisdom, as of 14th November, 2007:

Trotter vs. Minto

Pompous Chris has replied to Righteous John's original open letter.

Trotter makes some good points (as did Minto) but the whole thing is collapsing into silliness. Perhaps both should resolve to Shut Up for a while, and let the blood cool. As it is, the whole thing just sounds like two vain, middle-aged men defending their pride rather than any sort of meaningful debate.

Trevor Mallard slugs Tau Henare; Len Richards swipes a protestor who tried to grab his megaphone; now Trotter and Minto butt heads. Ah! 'Tis spring and the sap is rising!

I almost wish I was a rightwinger, because watching the collective madness that seems to have seized the left, and particularly these two hand-bagging each other and squealing is funny enough from here; from a rightie's point-of-view, it must side-splitting. But if I was a rightwinger, I'd have to have a crush on Ayn Rand or Margaret Thatcher, and that's just depressing.
1 - 'An open letter to John Minto,' by Chris Trotter, in the Sunday Star Times, 11th of November, 2007. (
2 - 'Letter from John Minto to Chris Trotter,' press release from John Minto, 30th of October, 2007. (

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Monbiot vs Bio fuels

Monbiot - echoing Fidel Castro (1)- tells harsh truth about the panacea of bio fuels:

The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren’t entirely to blame - by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand - but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.

They turn away because biofuels offer a means of avoiding hard political choices. They create the impression that governments can cut carbon emissions and - as Ruth Kelly, the British transport secretary, announced last week - keep expanding the transport networks. New figures show that British drivers puttered past the 500 billion kilometre mark for the first time last year. But it doesn’t matter: we just have to change the fuel we use. No one has to be confronted. The demands of the motoring lobby and the business groups clamouring for new infrastructure can be met. The people being pushed off their land remain unheard. (2)

Climate change is not something that will be met by changing the sort of fuel we use. It will require huge compromises from both sides. People wil have to accet changes to the way we live - though they'll adapt, quickly, because people always do. Greens and environmentalists will probably have to accept a role for nuclear power, because China and India must find a way to reach a western level of development, without western levels of emmissions.

1 - Castro was the first voice I heard suggesting bio fuels were not a good thing, and burning poor peaoples food so rich people could carry on using cars was evil and wrong. See 'Castro hits out at US biofuel use ,' unattributed BBC atricle, 29th of March, 2007. (
2 - 'An agricultural crime against humanity,' by George Monbiot, published in The Guardian, 6th of November, 2007. (

I was, of course, right ...

On the 27th of October, on an IMC Aotearoa forum, I predicted:
It isn't certain that they'll [the Urewera 17/16/12] be charged under the terrorism act, though, and they won't be spending a year in jail, I'll bet. Most of them'll be out in early November, facing firearm charges. (1)

While not 100% accurate (they were all released), it was a damn sight better than some of the guff being spouted by others.

More later.
1 - Posted on IMC Aotearoa, 27th of October, 2007:

Monday 12 November 2007


I enjoy listening to the panel on National Radio, even though Jim Mora hasn't read out any of my emails yet. It serves the useful purpose of demonstrating that lefties can generally be erudite and funny about stuff, and take the piss - even Pompous Chris (1) - whereas righties are generally annoying, dull, montonous ideologues who can only bleat on about Labour and how scurrilous Labour / Greens / anyone who doesn't have extensive passages of Atlas Shrugged tattoooed across their buttocks, is.

Today (2), it was one of the latter variety, with two rightie panellists, Mike Ponder and Richard Griffin. Griffin is a frequent paneleer and generally Not An Idiot. Ponder I have no knowledge of, perhaps because he spends his time flitting betxit New Zealand and Aussie, which puts me in mind of something Muldoon once said.

Anyway, during the panels deliberations, the topic of How Much More Splendid Australia Is cropped up, as it does every other week or so. This time, it was in the context of Michael 'Ebenezeer' Cullen's comments (3) about tax cuts not briding the income gulf between New Zealand and Australia. Ponder agreed with Cullen in general, explaining that Austalia was so much more fabulous than New Zealand that a few dollars couldn't compensate for the horror of being trapped in a country that (from his tacit description) gave North Korea a run for its money.

All very well. People can like Australia more than New Zealand, no matter how odd their reasons. His reasons for valourising Australia were: that Australia had a better climate, which is nonsense - ask any Aussie farmer; Australians enjoyed better opportunites, which is a wonderfully vague term, especially with no example given; the general way of life was more purposeful. Also, Aussies cherished their heritage and history more. While I'll concede that are many Australian cultural colossi, like Patrick White, Ivan Southall, Peter Weir, John Pilger, Clive James and Nick Cave, Aussie's, as a rule, aren't an international by-word for cultural savvy.

All debateable points, but not scurrilous or absurd. But there was more, oh yes.

Crucially, New Zealanders hated the New Zealand government (elected , last time I checked, by New Zealanders) and were sick of "the Maori issues. People just get sick of the Maori issue in their face all the time." Then Griffin - usually Not An Idiot, remember - chipped in, pointing out "in terms of the aboriginals, the the Australian's ... white Australian policy was disgraceful, but it's now an issue that's history."

Whoa, Nelly, what?

New Zealanders are leaving New Zealand because of "Maori issues"? What about the ... um ... New Zealanders who happen to be Maori, and who are leaving? Are they leaving because they are sick of "Maori issues"? Or is there tacit implication that New Zealander means white, and Maori must be something else?

And then Richard 'Not An Idiot' Griffin announces that the vast over-representation of Aboriginal Australians (note his slip - at first it is just 'the Australian's' who have an atrocious historical record, quickly ammended to ''White Australians') in all the bad statistics - crime, povert, child abuse, alcoholism, low life expectancy and all that - is "an issue that is history." Yeah, right. Sorry, but bollocks.

You can't just draw a line under mammoth injustices like thos inflicted on the Aboriginals. Even to do attempt to do that and say, "That's all finished with, we'll treat you nice from now on" is de facto racism, because the Aboriginals so over represented at the bad of the social statistics. You have to make redress, balance it out, take affirmative action, whtever you want to call it. New Zealand - slowly and painfully and reluctantly - is doing that. Maori tribes acan seek redress through the courts for past injustices (4), and Labour is improving the lot of Maori through - bluntly - race specific policies coupled with socially progressive measures. It is working, at a pace that New Zealanders - of all colours and backgrounds - seem to be accepting.

So, if there are New Zealanders - and by that I mean craven Pakeha scum who are in denial of historical injustice and the need to sort it out - are really moving to Australia becasue they're sick of the "Maori issues," then they can piss off. The country is better off without tacitly racist morons like that.
1 - Pompous Chris will be my new name for Chris Trotter, as The Moustachioed One seems too adulatory. This label, and Halt All Racist Tours, will be John Minto's lasting contributions to New Zealand society.
2 - Monday, 12th of November, 2007. Unfortunately, the audio is only available online for a week, that I'm aware of, so I won't bother linking. If this is not the case, please advise me.
3 - 'Labour's tax cut commitment doubted,' unattributed TVNZ article, 11th of November, 2007. (
4 - Yes, I know. Foreshore and Seabed. Nothing is perfect. But this is not perfect and much worse.

Monday 5 November 2007

Idiot/Savant vs. Trotter

Do I need a tag just for Trotter bashing? Idiot Savant has posted a commentary (1) on Trotter's recent column (2).

As I've said before, I think there is less distance between my position (cautiously support for police action, with reservations) and I/S's (scolding the police for an over-reaction, use of the terror legislation et cetera) than there is between I/S and the loonies on IMC Aotearoa.

The latter decided immediately that all of the Urewera 17 are innocent because "hey, we know them, and their like, really nice guys." I'm sure many - most? - of them are, and have done nothing more sinister than assoicate with people who are somewhat more mercurial. But if the activist community is going to welcome human detritus like Jamie Lockett - an ex-debt collector (3) - and self promoting, junta endorsing (4) fools like Tame Iti, then it it has to expect some fallout from such reckless association. Association doesn't mean guilt. But it does invite investigation, if those you associate with are suspicious. Whimpering about police states or the like doesn't help. Look at Fiji, or Pakistan. That is what real political terror looks like.

Anyway, I was intending to talk about what Idiot/Savant said. I'm not disputing his anger at the use of the terrorism legislation - that's a valid position that's been reached through reason, not automatic anti-police / pro-activist prejudice (5). And I/S is more than welcome to have a go at Chris Trotter. The Moustachiod One needs to be taken down a peg, regularly. He gets too easy a ride as it is, appearing everywhere and being, oh, so eloquent and witty and filling the role of popular leftwing intellectual. Without regular down-pegging, he becomes lazy and (Minto (6) was right about this, at least) pompous. Mike Moore should be employed to shadow him 24 hours a day, to keep him on his toes.

Where I think I/S is wrong is his take on Trotter's comment about the relationsahip between Maori and Labour. Trotter wrote:
How tragic it would be if, at the very point when Maori seemed poised to take their rightful place at the heart of the New Zealand State, a handful of radical relics from the 1970s and 80s and a pack of play-acting paramilitaries ended up supplying the Right with precisely the terrifying "revolutionary" iconography it requires to roll back eight years of advance. (7)
Idiot/Savant counters, arguing:
You get that? It's not the thirty years of advance which have occurred since the Treaty was recognised in New Zealand law, that Trotter wants us to silence our
consciences to protect, but the "eight years of advance" under Labour - eight years of "advance" which have seen Maori stripped of their right to test the ownership of the foreshore and seabed in the courts, and an arbitrary and unjust deadline on the filing of Treaty claims imposed, all in the name of pandering to the same authoritarian rednecks Trotter wants us to pander to again. (8)
Here I think Idiot/Savant is taking too narrow a view of things. I think the problem is perspectives. I/S is thinking about the issue in racial terms, regarding the recognition of the legal authority of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1975 as the point where Maori's historical rights and grievances were acknowledged. Trotter is thinking about it primarily in economic terms, where the key dates are 1984 and 1990. So both are right, in different ways. Maori, in some respects, and generally on a superstructural level, have enjoyed considerable benefits since the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. On the other hand, the 80s and 90s saw Maori individuals and communities suffer the worst of the carpet-bagging reforms. It is only since Labour were elected that some progress has been made.

National will undoubtedly look to roll back the progress that has been made by those at the bottom of the social pyramid - which is broad and disproprtionately brown. They might not try to do it straight away, Ruth Richardson style. But they'll do what they can, using the leeway they've left them selves in their mealy-mouthed non-policy statements, and they certainly be looking to set about another garage sale of New Zealand assets in their second term. And the hardest hit, once again, will be Maori. So I think the claim that Trotter's prime concern is Labour's election chances is unfair (9).

Nor do I hold with I/S's contention that Trotter is telling the left to shut up and keep their heads down. Perhaps he's rolling his eyes in despair at the sight of Che Guevara and the calls for armed insurrection in New Zealand. But his criticism, to my mind at any rate, has been aimed initially at the Urewera 17, who he lambasts as idiots - deliberate, calculating idiots with wicked intent, or naive, hapless idiots hanging around with the former. He's also scathing of the way the activist community has closed ranks and assumed that there is no case to answer what-so-ever, which just isn't a tenable position. The next step should be to ask why the left has embraced causes like the Maori sovereignty movement, when the goals of the seperatists are at odds with thos of a democratic socialist movement, and tolerates the calls for racial violence being voiced by some.
1 - 'Labour's Trotter,' posted on No Right Turn, by Idiot/Savant on the 2nd of Novmeber, 2007. (
2 - 'No salvation in Ureweras,' by Chris Torrotter in The Dominion Post, 2nd of November, 2007. (
3 - 'Lockett anti-establishment and proud of it,' by Patrick Gower in the NZ Herald, 27th of October, 2007. (
4 - 'Maori Activist Planning to go to Leader's Forum to Help Fiji,' unattributed item on NiuFM, 2nd of October, 2007. (
5 - If my memory serves me, Idiot/Savant's initial post on the raids contained a comment along the lines of "If there has been criminal activity then this is serious and warrants investigation" - not exact words. Interestingly, he/she seems to have edited the post (, or else my memory is blotchy.
6 - 'Open Letter from John Minto to Chris Trotter,' press release from John Minto, 30th of October, 2007. (
7 - '' by Chris Tortter, in the Dominion Post, 2nd ov Novmber, 2007, (
Quoted on No Right Turn, 2nd of November, 2007 (#1, above).

8 - As per #1, above.
9 - This is not the first time I/S has indulged in a bit of Trotter bashing (Trotting?). Witness this comment on No Right Turn, from 12th of July: Notice the similarities?


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