Friday, July 13, 2012

Te Radar finds goldfish, but misses the nukes and the strip mine

There was a telling moment in this week's episode of Te Radar's television series about the Pacific.

The Kiwi entertainer had tramped into the forested mountains behind the Samoan capital of Apia with a local guide. When the two men emerged from the forest and stood on the shore of a small green lake called Lanoto'o, Te Radar's companion began to talk about the history of this beautiful spot. He explained that, during Samoa's struggle for independence from New Zealand, groups of nationalists had taken refuge from Kiwi military forces in the area around the lake.

After New Zealand police opened fire on a peaceful pro-independence march and killed eleven Samoans at the end of 1929, Wellington sent hundreds of marines to its restive colony. Soon the troops had marched out of Apia into the mountains of 'Upolu, where they burnt down villages associated with the anti-colonial Mau movement and arrested known nationalists. Samoans responded by fleeing through the forest to remote spots like Lanolo'o, where they raised rough huts and waited for fatigue and malaria to send their pursuers back to the barracks and bars of the colonial capital. Despite its tranquility, then, Lake Lanoto'o had played a role in one of the most tragic periods of Samoan history.

As he sat beside the little green lake, though, Te Radar didn't want to take the hint offered by his guide, and turn his attention toward New Zealand's disastrous colonial rule of Samoa. Instead, Te Radar wanted to talk about goldfish. He began to quizz his bemused companion about a colony of goldfish the Germans had established at Lanoto'o during the couple of decades that they ruled Samoa, and he became excited when he was told that the fish were still living in the lake. An important if awkward subject had been rejected in favour of a piece of trivia.

Te Radar had dealt with December the 29th, 1929 in a very cursory manner early in his Samoa episode. After describing the events of the date Samoans still call 'Black Saturday', he had noted that no monument sat on the spot where protesters were gunned down. This lack of a memorial stone meant, Te Radar decided, that Samoans wanted to 'move on' from the tragedy of 1929. Instead of discussing the causes and consequences of Black Saturday, then, he was happy to shift his attention to matters like the goldfish of Lake Lanoto'o.

Te Radar's inadequate treatment of the colonial history of Samoa was not surprising. In episode after episode of his television series, he has shown little or no interest in the colonial history of the Pacific, and in the continuing economic and political domination of the region by Western powers. As a result, he has struggled to understand the societies he has visited.
In last week's episode about the Micronesian nation of Kiribati, Te Radar visited the overcrowded atoll of Tarawa, where shantytowns have taken the place of coconut groves, and raw sewage poisons a lagoon that once seethed with fish. Near the end of this week's episode, Te Radar visited Apia's downtown foodmarket, where he found fried chicken, mutton flaps, and some alarmingly big bellies.

Unlike the goldfish of Lake Lanoto'o, the squalor of Tarawa and the poor health of Samoans are important subjects. Unfortunately, Te Radar's refusal to acknowledge the impact of colonialism on the Pacific made his discussions of these subjects misleading and patronising.

During his visit to Kiribati, Te Radar observed that Tarawa has become overcrowded because of mass emigration from other, more remote atolls. Young I-Kiribati buy one-way tickets to their nation's political and commercial capital, despite the fact that four out of every five of the people already living there are unemployed. All too often, emigrants end up living in shacks beside Tarawa's fetid lagoon.

Te Radar clearly considered the movement of I-Kiribati to Tarawa to be both foolish and environmentally irresponsible. What he didn't mention, and quite possibly didn't know, is that the distribution of Kiribati's population was affected disastrously by the detonation of more than twenty nuclear bombs over its largest atoll in the 1950s and '60s.

Kiribati was a British colony until 1979, and in 1957 and 1958 the British tested nuclear bombs in the skies over the eastern Kiribati island of Kiritimati. New Zealand was an enthusiastic supporter of Britain's tests, and sent the frigates Pukaki and Rotoiti to observe them. In 1962, at the invitation of the British, the United States detonated twenty or so of its own nuclear weapons over the island.

Kiritimati's three hundred and twenty square kilometres make it larger than Kiribati's other thirty-three islands combined. The island has a vast lagoon, and much arable land. Kiritimati should have made an ideal place for emigrants from small and overcrowded atolls to settle, but after 1957 I-Kiribati were understandably reluctant to make it their home. 
Although most of Kiritimati has now been decontaminated, its population remains small, partly because it has no ferry or air service to the rest of Kiribati. The government in Tarawa has repeatedly asked Britain, Australia and New Zealand to help fund a shipping service to Kiritimati, and repeatedly been turned down. Without the option of continuing their traditional fishing and farming activities on Kiritimati, landless I-Kiribati from overcrowded atolls often feel they have no choice but to depart for Tarawa.

During last week's episode of his series Te Radar profiled a New Zealand aid project which provided water tanks and purifiers for the inhabitants of the slums of Tarawa. Admiring some of the new tanks, Te Radar paid tribute to the generosity of Kiwis.

It can be argued, though, that New Zealand has taken far more from Kiribati than it will ever give to the country.

At the end of the nineteenth century a New Zealander named Albert Ellis discovered phosphate on Banaba, the westernmost island in Kiribati. After persuading the locals to cede their sovereignty to the British Empire, Ellis began to mine phosphate by the tonne and send it to New Zealand, where dairy farmers valued it as a fertiliser. Like Nauru, another Micronesian island which had the misfortune to possess phosphate, Banaba was mined unmercifully, and came to look like the surface of the moon. When the Banabans protested about the loss of their gardens to the mine, British administrators moved them thousands of kilometres to Fiji. Ellis' mine finally closed in 1979, but little has been done to regenerate the Banaban landscape or bring the Banabans home.

New Zealand's ten billion dollar dairy industry was established on the back of the strip mining of Banaba, but this country has never offered the island's people any compensation for their travails. If Te Radar were aware of the history of Banaba he might not be so convinced of the munificence of his countrymen.

Te Radar's discussion of the shortcomings of Samoan diets seemed as bereft of context as his laments about the squalor of Tarawa and his celebrations of Kiwi generosity towards Kiribati. The entertainer bemoaned modern Samoans' penchant for fired chooks, mutton flaps, and corned beef, and lamented the loss of their traditional, healthy diet of lean meat and vegetables. He introduced viewers to a palangi nutritionist from New Zealand, and lauded the attempts of this latter-day missionary to warn Samoans away from sinful foods.

But Te Radar didn't mention the way that New Zealanders have fostered Samoans' taste for unhealthy food.

For decades now Kiwi companies have been exporting their fattiest portions of meat to Samoa and other Pacific nations. Mutton, corned beef, and chicken that is judged unfit for New Zealand consumption is bagged or canned and sent to the islands, where it is sold cheaply to locals who can afford nothing better.
In 2010 the New Zealand Medical Journal ran an article describing the 'causative relationship' between exports of cheap meat from New Zealand and 'endemic obesity' in places like Samoa. Dr Nick Watson, one of the authors of the article, has condemned New Zealand for 'giving development assistance' to the Pacific with one hand, only to spread 'heart disease epidemics' with the other.

Te Radar might want to 'move on' from the days when New Zealand and other Western nations had formal colonies in the Pacific, but many economic and ideological threads connect the colonial era with the twenty-first century. Britian exploded nuclear bombs over Kiritimati, and now refuses to help restore the island's connections with the outside world. New Zealand dumps second-rate and hazardous products in Samoa in the same nonchalant way it used to send dangerously incompetent administrators and soldiers there. Because he doesn't recognise the impact of colonialism and neo-colonialism on the Pacific, Te Radar ends up blaming people like the I-Kiribati and the Samoans for problems created by others.

[Posted by Maps/Scott]

39 Comments:

Blogger Alex said...

What an incredible post, you have absolutely torn Radar's show to pieces. I think the problem here is getting a comedian to front a show that really should be a documentary. Either you are presenting a factual and complete history of Pacific Islands, or you are making a jokey travel show. It becomes insulting when you try and do both.

8:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A great example of the West dictating the quality of food imported into Samoa is the nation's recent accession to the WTO. A few years ago, the Ministry of Health banned the import of turkey tails which is 100% fat and had been offloaded to Pacific nations because no-one else would buy it (much like NZ meat left overs). But with the new WTO membership Samoa had to disestablish trade barriers which meant turkey tails are now being imported back into Samoa!

[BTW the lake is called Lanoto'o hehe]

Thanks for the great read.

Soifua

9:24 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

You may - and I stress the "may" because I don't really know for sure - be treating Te Radar a little harshly, Scott.

The first thing you realise about television shows like "Radar Across The Pacific" is that very little about them is unscripted or unrehearsed, and that the frontperson is often indistinguishable from an actor delivering lines he has been given.

Andrew Lumsden may have been very interested to follow up on Samoa's experience of imperialism, but if the makers of the programme weren't keen, he simply wouldn't have been allowed to, and if he had tried the results would have been edited out.

On the other hand, if the series is "Te Radar's" brainchild, and he is the one writing the script, then all of your very trenchant (and valid) crticisms of the show are entirely justified.

10:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One again could you please do Te Radar the courtesy of using his REAL name when you defame him??

Andrew Lumsden!

10:47 am  
Blogger Chris Trotter said...

After a little digging, Scott, I've discovered that "Radar Across The Pacific" is produced by Zeitgeist Productions Ltd with assistance from NZ on Air.

The principals of the company are a German, Alexander Behse (who appears to be based in Kiribati) and an Auckland-based Kiwi television and film director, Peter Bell.

So, perhaps your critique should be extended to cover the individuals paying Andrew's fee.

5:11 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This is good again.

My grandfather (from England) knew Ellis.*(I have quite number of books by and or about him and also about Kiribati etc) It is was the guano that was mined. My mother spent many holidays on Banaba (Ocean Island) and I have a lot of pre-war pictures of the place. The British, Australia and NZ benefited from the exploitation of guano (and I think they failed to replace sufficient of the coconut trees amongst other failures to keep to the contract with the Banabans etc) which was processed to make superphosphate and then top dressing with that meant that NZ farming benefited hugely. Also undoubtedly Australia and Britain. I hadn't realized that Xmas Island was so close - (there is another Christmas Island); but the patterns repeat. The US also in the Marshalls (by and large they devastated the place with nuclear testing and ICBM missile testing.) The French also of course in their empire. But NZ is also "guilty". We are no less Imperialists than the US, British, French or the Russians or whoever.John Pilger is good on the Australian Government's desperation (was it Whitlam?) to test a nuclear bomb even in Australia!).

I have lot of pre war pictures of Banaba (in the Kiribati group) and I was going through some of it when I found, quite by chance I have a quite detailed map of the Island dated about 1935.

Radar is perhaps a likeable (I caught the tail end of his "show" last week) but not very informed...joker? Is he a Joker?
Maybe he is just a little challenged...as many journalists are. [Not all! Some are wonderful people!]

*Also I'm pretty sure he knew many in the freezing working industries as my father got a well paid job (as an engineer-architect)* straight from uni as a "high up" friend of my grandfather (Ellis or someone in the Superphosphate Commission (as I think it was called) recommended him to someone in Hellabies...lol

**Which in turn is why I found it very easy to get employment ("go to the head of the que") there myself as a labourer!!

9:07 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

So there is a connection between the exploitation of guano etc and the Phosphate Commission and the freezing works and faring inn NZ and the meat industry and the export of corn beef and other meat (ironically) back to the Pacific Islands.

You could say we stole our prosperity from the Pacific nations (and from Maori) and then made them pay again.

9:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Te Radar speaks for the white man...someone has to

9:17 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Thanks for that info Chris. I doubt whether Te Radar was struggling valiantly against his producers to get the real history of the Pacific onto our TV screens. In episode after episode he notes, in an inexplicably proud voice, that he did no research at all for his series. And he frequently makes small errors which suggest a wider ignorance.

During his episode on Kiribati, for instance, Te Radar walked from the coast of Tarawa to the highest point on the atoll, which is a couple of metres above sea level, and announced that he'd reached the highest point in Tarawa.

There was a misleading local sign which supported Te Radar's claim, but the fact is that the guano deposits which contain phosphate raise both Banaba and Kiritimati well above sea level. According to wikipedia, Banaba rises to a maximum height of eighty-one metres.

The question of the height of different islands in the Kiribati isn't very important in and of itself, but I do think the fact that Te Radar wasn't aware of the height of Banaba and Kiritimati suggests that he didn't know that they are phosphate islands. And if he didn't know about Banaba's phosphate's deposits and their exploitation, then he didn't know about New Zealand's most important connection with Kiribati. So much for episode.

Thanks for your kind words Alex and Soifua.

9:44 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

To Chris: I don't take this set of criticisms to be a personal attack on Te Radar. It's mostly an opportunity to explore the broader contradictions in NZ-Pacific relations. The fact that the man is possibly a pawn of his Producers doesn't let him off the hook either. I know everyone needs to make a living but we all have the freedom to do things differently... dig a little deeper, or not.

9:47 pm  
Anonymous libcom said...

you are right to highlight colonailism in these nations but not to take the side of nationalist groups nationalism serves the national bourgeoisie. a class conscious analysis would look at the role of non-nationalist forces like anarchists in places like samoa.

but of course it is in your interests as a non-class intellectual to portray anti-colonial struggles as non-class in nature

10:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol
http://www.jerk.com/Paul-Janman-p57550116.html

10:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

right now at kiwiblog your being called a traitor to the white race

11:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

te radar may not read all the pesantic history books...

so what?

he reads people!

he's a good kiwi bloke liked wherever he goes

if you haven't got anything positive to say why say anything at all?

all this knocking of a nice bloke is just repulsive to fair-minded nzers

9:07 pm  
Anonymous mr balance said...

In the aftermath of the Don brash's anti-Maori Orewa speech in 2004 Te Radar wrote a column for the Herald supporting 'dapper Don'. Later he attacked Helen Clark in the same place for saying that Brash's anti-Maori rhetoric was 'poisonous'.

Is Te Radar fit to present a series about Polynesian societies, when he is a supporter of Brash's racist views? Draw your own conclusions!

9:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TE RADAR CIULD CRUSH THAT WEAK FUKA PAUL JAM-MAN

10:17 am  
Blogger Peter Bell said...

HI - my name is Peter Bell and I'm the director of the Radar programme you seem to have some vitriolic aversion too.

I should point out that almost all of the "issues" you point that we touched on in the programme have never been in front of a mainstream NZ television audience. So the fact that we have got them in prime time audience is something of a coup - and that bloggers like yourself have then sought to spread the word about these is great. Perhaps, you should simply be adding to the debate and discussion rather than criticizing a programme for daring to mention these.

Yes it would be great to do an in-depth programme looking at the issue of colonialism in the pacific. But could you get someone to fund it? Would you get it on at 7:30 pm? I doubt it. I take your critique of the programme as a huge pat on the back for the team who worked hard to get this on air - we have started debate and discussion. So thank you.
Peter

1:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Bell's argument in short: it's OK to lie about history if you have to satisfy the racism of your audience.

Pathetic and shameless but pretty much what we'd expect from the TV industry.

3:16 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

More eloquent arguments from the bourgeois and illiterate Anonymous. Why does being dumb and 'positive' have to be pre-requisite of being 'a good kiwi bloke?'.

From what I've seen of him, Te Radar actually appears witty and clever at times, which is perhaps why Scott and the rest would like to see him really extend himself.

And to Peter Bell: I fail to see how being non-critical is going to 'add anything to the discussion and debate'. The way I read it, Scott was mostly criticising you for not mentioning the important issues at all. By not doing so, you descend to the level of a kind of tourist video.

I sort of congratulate you for surviving a fairly poisonous industry and getting your show to air but the only pat on the back you are likely to earn from the likes of Scott Hamilton will be an ironic one - for selling out and kissing ass to avoid the truth.

4:33 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

I wasn't referring to the anonymous directly above me of course, who is pretty spot on.

4:34 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Peter Bell has commented which is good. But "funding". This is why television so hopeless. When it came here about 1960 my father refused to get one as he said it was "unsociable" (he was right t a degree but he wasn't a very sociable person in any case!) BUT WE LOST A LOT FROM TV AND OTHER MEDIA - THE WORKING CLASS IS INCREASINGLY ALIENATED FROM ITSELF AS TECHNOLOGICAL "ADVANCES" OCCUR.

But in 1967 I hired a TV the first we had had - now since that time I have seen some good and some bad programs - but one thing is certain the quality AND the integrity has declined drastically as function of a)Time. b) In moving form Government ownership (hence more reliance on advertising and outside influence) c) The increase in the number of channels (with the limit that if advertising could be limited very much more this would be offset by some of the good stuff on Sky.

But Te Radar in the Pacific is absolute drivel - funding or not.

If Peter Bell really was interested he would GET the in-depth programs onto TV. This is what any journalist/producer with any conscience or courage would fight for. It is easy, very easy, to say this, I know, AND we all know we have to work for "The Man", but there are ways and ways.

We have to get away from this idea that what the public, what the majority want, that is what we put on TV - that is nonsense. The majority are morons.

Get some intelligent stuff on and if it is well done you will get big [enough] (sufficient - you only need an audience of one) audiences.

This doesn't need to mean that the escapist things need to be canned or whatever (it wont happen) -and in fact those things are good for people - I watch all sorts of "drivel" myself - but for the sake of God we can get some stuff better than this stuff by the brain of 1 month old Slug called Radar talking drivel through his excuse for a head...there has to be some time for intelligent debate, information, discussion.

This is what is wrong with democracy and Americamoronicansisation - we need Plato's Philosopher Kings.

Peter Bell - put (such as) Maps and Paul Janman on TV for 2 hours at least one night a week for 6 months to tell people what is going on - no interruption by adverts - to hell with funding.

4:50 pm  
Blogger Peter Bell said...

You guys crack me up - thanks Anonymous and Paul for the laughs. No argument or debate - just blind ranting and criticism as if only you hold the truth. Not unlike like the ideologues currently in power in NZ. Keep up the good work.

4:51 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

p.s. Nothing personal Peter. I'm a member of the Screen Director's Guild and you do some great work. You just need to be aware that you're dealing with another level of risk and rigour here. Criticism is a form of appreciation... it's a 'via negativa' by which we aspire to make things better. Good luck.

4:51 pm  
Blogger Peter Bell said...

You did write implying I was "selling out and kissing ass to avoid the truth". I think that's pretty personal. I admire doing stuff which you are passionate about - but I also want an audience. A whole lot more people now know that life ain't so good on Tarawa, and that NZ committed colonial atrocities in Samoa. I'm glad about that - not ashamed because I didn't make the definitive programme about those issues. It is a very commercial environment we work in - that sucks. That's why I believe we desperately need a public broadcasting channel. I'd love to make programmes about the water thieves of canterbury, why the reserve bank underwrote SCF and how the Dunedin stadium fiasco occurred - unfortunately currently no one will pay for those programmes and I have to work for a living.
Glad you're a guild member.

5:09 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

Yes, I apologise if those words caused offence. A public broadcasting channel - amen to that. But if you want to do it, get out and do it! I certainly defer to your vastly superior experience in 'the industry'. I just hobble along on scraps of harsh and weird stuff as do the majority of people who read this blog. I'm afraid Scott will continue to be a critic because that's the kind of animal he is. I should add that the criticism is not empty - it comes out of a hell of a lot of scholarship and a large measure of 'purity of intention' however suicidal that may be!

5:23 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

p.s. I hope this doesn't deter you from giving me a job on your next big project Peter! I need to feed my kids too, Hee hee.

But seriously... the show is what it is and that's just fine, given the tough tv environment. The only advice I can give is that this is probably not the forum to ask for a non-critical attitude.

6:19 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"For God's sake" Peter: "...you're in your sixth year!"

It's true I saw how bad things were on Tarawa but Te Radar - nice fellow he might be - jumped over to some other subject. He still crapping yellow so who can blame him?

Paul is very passionate as is Comrade Maps but I am a nutcase so don't take any notice of me (it would be a first if anyone did!!), I'm an old fuck...but here there is some pretty fiery debate on here admittedly alt such as myself who come here are pretty insane. (And there are all the crazy anons to wade through...)

But Scott loves the argy bargy.

Yes, in the real world you need to earn a living and you are right, it's hard to beat City Hall.

It sounds as though you care so stay in there. Hang on. I doubt though that between even Scott, myself and Paul (et al) we agree on that much (although in general we are sympatico):
and it is true there are many important issues to cover...

The fault is not yours (it is perhaps ours?) but the TV industry/ideology/system. It is a general ideological philosophical problem. Then there is the ugly matter of money!

Not so easy when you are in the middle of it. Do what you can Peter me old mate.

Maps is probably lying around boozed or taking those pain killers and having those crazy dreams....Ho!

6:40 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I don't think Peter realises what a hole he's digging for himself here.

Far from offering unsubstantiated complaints, I've written three detailed posts explaining the oversights, errors, and outright fabrications in four separate episodes of Radar in the Pacific.
I've argued that a series littered with such basic errors, fond of such racist cliches, and devoid of any basis in research will reinforce rather than change palangi ignorance about the Pacific.

And more importantly, I'm not the only one complaining about the show - some very distinguished Polynesian writers and scholars have weighed in with their own objections. In a comment at this blog, Keri Hulme complained that Te Radar had a perspective that was 'skewed' against Polynesians. Vaughan Rapatahana e mailed me to tell me how much he detested Te Radar's portryal of Kiribati and Samoa. I've had many similar messages.

Instead of treating critics like these with some modicum of respect, though, Peter has told them that he considers their complaints 'a pat on the back'. For some inscrutable reason, he considers all of the flaws of his show - the basic historical and sociological errors, the insulting retreads of racist cliches, the failure to do even cursory research on important subjects - to be virtues.

Imagine if Paul Henry had responded to complaints about his racist comments on the former governor general by saying 'These complaints are actually a great pat on the back', or that Paul Holmes had defended his notorious 'cheeky darkie' remark about Kofi Annan by claiming that he'd helped promote public debate of race relations, and you have analogies for Peter Bell's very odd response to his critics.

If I were Peter Bell I'd try another line of defence. His comments in this thread won't do him any favours.

7:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol. when you insult people peter they are rude back to you. funny that. don't broadcast racist insults and you'll be safe.

7:37 pm  
Anonymous Bob Triffid said...

Te Radar/Peter Bell fuckup watch #321:

tonight the ginga nut said that the population of the Cook Islands had gone into decline and was only 12 k. Musta gone down real fast, since the Cooks govt says it's 20k

But hey. What's a 50% underestimate of a country's population matter. I reckon there are 2mil people in NZ. I won't bother to check. A wild guess is good enough.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

To be fair, a lot of these "wrongs" are faults more of omission rather than commission. It's not as if the program was really an in depth documentary. I saw it tonight and there was some interesting stuff on (birds who live all their lives in caves!), but otherwise it was mildly entertaining. Harmless. Storm in a tea cup.

The damage has already been done before Radar came on the scene. he might be "negligent" or not so well informed but he's not Hitler. Nor is he a Jacob Bronowski or a Sagan or Pilger (who is rather dour). Radar (like the Radar in MASH?) himself comes across as a pretty harmless bloke.

Chris Trotter probably made a good point. There are clearly restraints.

I saw Peter Bell's comment as an attempt to extend the olive branch somewhat. He's nothing to do with Holmes or Henry! That's a ridiculous comparison...

Even if you could get together the "ideal " documentary series and about The Pacific you need funding as Peter said.

It seems the the TV system is "at fault" maybe if such as you Scott and say Paul approach the TV powers that be, you will be able to push for a more in depth and perhaps less biased (less superficial) documentary.

But I think Radar is pretty light weight. He's a comedian in his day job I believe. he gets on well with everyone he meets or so it seems. People skills are essential, Trotkyists[ and some of the other broken down radicals] notoriously lack them and so they will never get any message across to anyone - their only method, it seems, is to grizzle.

11:57 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hi Richard,

Te Radar didn't make a single reference last night to the sixty-four years the Cook Islands spent as a colony of New Zealand. He didn't mention the attempts by Kiwi administrators to break up customary land titles on the Cooks, to destroy the traditional role of chiefs, and to turn the country into a plantation for palangi capitalists, and he didn't, of course, mention the campaign of resistance that the Cook Islanders waged - a campaign that Dick Scott decribes in his book Years of the Poo-bah.

Te Radar did, however, find time to complain about the 'appalling' corruption of the governments the Cooks has had since the country became independent.

Imagine a television documentary which mentioned the problems of contemporary South Africa without making a single reference to the apartheid era and you have an idea of the absurdity of last night's episode.

So much for Peter Bell's claim that his series is opening eyes to New Zealand's colonial past in the Pacific...

8:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Te Radar the anti-imperialist? Please tell me Peter Bell is taking the piss...

4:27 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:07 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

The whole series was disappointing but I don't think it was deliberately racist - case of omission - but certainly poor in quality but maybe that is thee reality of TV and not Radar (who seems to be rather sadly "challenged", but we all have difficulties in life...) or Bell although we can tell them to to do better next time!


But I am afraid the "masses" don't really want anything to difficult or worrying so the TV people create nice picture for them and maybe that is therapeutic for everyone.

Life is difficult and sad for most people so who can blame these "people" or their "betters" who create the wonderful TV Magic...

Nor do they want to dwell on the complexities of NZ's rather dark past, let alone the Oceanic Holocaust

9:10 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

Peter Bell is not a person with evil intentions. He has apparently been an advocate of the cultural and economic rights of screen directors and editors for some years.

The worrying thing though is as President of the Screen Director’s Guild, he nonetheless seems to be quite unaware of the tropes that he has been wielding in the Radar series. Not only were there omissions but there were also damaging stereotypes. You only need to see the TV Guide front page of Radar in a lei and pretending to play the ukulele in front of a Pacific beach to realise that there is very little serious reflection on the complexities of the contemporary Pacific.

For this reason, I would like to apologise for and retract my implication that he is a sellout or an ass kisser. That was too rash and hot-headed… it's more a case of 'they're doing it, they just don't know they're doing it'. If, on the other hand, Bell and the others really did know what they were doing and cynically went ahead with it, then the above statement would be fully justified.

What is unforgivable however, is Bell’s failure to take seriously the criticisms of people who evidently do understand these tropes. It’s also imprudent. If you try to appease Scott Hamilton et al with Orwellian demands about 'debate and discussion without criticism', they will simply take you to pieces.

If Bell really is unaware of the operation of dialectical arguments, which can only progress through negation and synthesis, then I actually start to feel sorry for him in this context! But again, a little research and rigour would have alerted him to Scott’s particular standards of logic and inquiry before he dived in.

The best thing for Bell to do at this point is to acknowledge the errors and damage done, learn and move on rather than wallow in contradiction. Self-justifying rhetoric and spin might work in the industry but it won’t work here. Nuff said.

11:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone involved in commercial TV in NZ for more than 5 minutes is likely to be corrupted by the experience. Aesthetic and intellectual values are incompatible with the demands of the super-philistines with the money. Insulting assumptions about the narrow-mindedness of audiences are de rigeur.

Peter Bell's cluelessness is not surprising.

11:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bell is one of scriptwriters for Shiteland Street. Says it all, as far as his intellectual ambitions go...

3:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ladies all of merry England
Who have been to kiss the Duchess's hand,
Pray, did you not lately observe in the show
A noble Italian called Signor Dildo? ...
A rabble of pricks who were welcomed before,
Now finding the porter denied them the door,
Maliciously waited his coming below
And inhumanly fell on Signor Dildo ...

6:32 am  

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