Falun Wrong

On Friday the Falun Gong people were out silently protesting their fellows’ persecution back in China. I was instantly beset with a welter of conflicting thoughts…

  • Good to be in a place where people can feel safe enough to protest in public like that
  • Why in the world would China feel a need to persecute people for doing their little morning exercises… there must be more to the story
  • But my notion of freedom seems to not quite apply in China. And their brand of society seems to be pretty amazingly successful these days.
  • Forced organ harvesting? Really? In the hundreds of thousands? Really? Wouldn’t we have heard more?
  • Or not… can we trust the media to report on the important issues?
  • Yeah, actually, I think we can, more or less
  • So, good luck with your protest, I hope you find happiness somehow.

Is there ever a good time? Or a bad time?

New Zealanders, and Aucklanders in particular, are very focused on building personal wealth through real estate. There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but mostly it’s been a great investment for quite a long time. In Auckland, for example, tax values are up almost 50% in the last three years, and retail prices more than that. Bubble? Time will tell. The new government has said it will limit foreign buyers’ ability to buy real estate, causing a bit of a flurry among the (largely Chinese) community of foreign cash buyers.

This particular property is leased by a property investment firm. They are being kicked out as that building is part of a large parcel that is about to get sold and even further densified.

Parliament

We took the hourlong tour of the NZ Parliament complex just after our walk through the garden. No photos allowed inside, so sadly we didn’t get to record our young tour guide. Her nametag said Cora, or maybe Carla, but that didn’t matter… it was obvious that her real name was Hermione.

The complex has three very distinct buildings… the modern Beehive (mostly offices, some like it, some don’t, according to Hermione/Cora), and the Edwardian neo-classical section with the actual legislative chamber, both above. Below, the Victorian Gothic Revival library building.

We intended to go sit in and listen to debate, but the gallery was full, owing to the agenda being taken up of valedictory speeches and MP’s friends and family occupying all the seats. It’s somehow awesome that Parliament here has the same feeling as a high school basketball game when the underdog team unexpectedly makes it to the state championships.

Vote early and twice

The election campaign is in full swing here, reaching what passes for a fever pitch in New Zealand. That means that there are signs like this one… It is not the same level of fever pitch that I am familiar with from the States.

But there has been some excitement… The woman in this photograph, who has been the co-leader of the Green party, had to resign this week from her post after she revealed dodgy welfare benefits she received many years ago. On the one hand, fairly minor offenses, but on the other, as leader of her Party she was held to a very high standard. We will never know whether that standard was even higher due to her being female and of Maori descent. But probably yes. 

Everyone gets two votes, one for their local member of Parliament, and another for their political party of choice. There is a system of proportional representation, and so if a party gets more votes than its individual candidates, they are awarded some party seats to make up the difference. Awesome in my opinion.