On May 30 #ArmsDownNZ began to trend on Twitter as we learned that NZ Police’s trial Armed Response Team had not been reserved for incidents that posed “significant risk”, but had largely been doing normal Police work.

This news landed just 5 days after the horrifying murder of George Floyd at the hands of American Police, captured on video and broadcast around the world. Yet another abhorrent demonstration of racism and Police brutality against Black people in America. (Please seek out writing from Black people in America on this topic, I am here to write about my own experiences not theirs.)

There is a view of New Zealand as an idyllic island nation, remote and pristine, full of hope and promise, separate from the troubles of the world. Safe – not even the wildlife will kill you.

This idea of New Zealand as a safe land of opportunity is what brought many colonial settlers here in the first place, and what current residents of our country often turn to for comfort when there are problems overseas – “I’m so glad I live in New Zealand! That doesn’t happen here”.

George Floyd’s murder is another traumatic overseas event we are trying to make sense of. The horror of watching a man die beneath the unrelenting knee of a law enforcement officer induces us to seek out comfort and to make ourselves feel safe.

The revelation that our own Police force could soon be carrying out their normal Policing duties while also carrying firearms should rip away the comfort of “it wouldn’t happen here”.

More armed Police will lead to more people killed by Police, and those people are more likely to be brown. Research from JustSpeak released in February 2020 highlights racism within the NZ justice system.

Our research shows that when first encountering police, Māori who have had no prior contact with the justice system are 1.8 times at risk of a police proceeding and seven times  more likely to be charged by Police, than Europeans. When someone is charged they are more likely to end up trapped in the justice system. Their chance of re-offending increases with negative outcomes for whānau and communities. More than half of Aotearoa’s prison population is Māori, despite Māori making up only 15% of the general population.

Excerpt from JustSpeak website

If the idea of New Zealand as a safe place is one that is dear to you, you must take action to ensure that it’s true. armsdown.nz has more information and resources for doing this, speaking with those around you about this issue is a really good start.

I wrote the following to haveyoursay@police.govt.nz 3 days ago. I haven’t had any response.

For consideration in regards to the Police Armed Response Team trial in New Zealand.

The news of this trial being undertaken at all was confronting for me as a Māori New Zealander concerned with the rates at which Māori people are involved with the Police in our country. 

I fear that these high numbers become a self fulfilling prophecy - belief that Māori are our highest offenders leads to greater suspicion, investigation and involvement in Māori lives by the Police.

Firearms are lethal weapons and I am extremely uncomfortable with any person in our country being empowered to aim a lethal weapon at another human being for any reason. 

The justifications for the trial were made, concerns were raised, and the trial has been run. I believe the trial has confirmed that arms are not necessary in day-to-day law enforcement in New Zealand and that our country would feel safer without firearms being guaranteed as a factor in any confrontation involving the police. I believe an increase in weaponry on the part of the Police will increase fear and the panic response from suspects who may escalate their own reactions leading to more use of weapons in confrontations. 

Allowing firearms to be on our streets ensures more people will die by shooting. 

I think a more impactful statement to the public would be to engender trust - largely the people of New Zealand do care for each other, why not continue to generally trust the people of this country? 

Tasers are sufficient day to day weapons for the assistance of subduing offenders if necessary. Situations which would be argued to require firearms should be deferred or stalled until a special unit can be involved, disengage if necessary to protect officers. 

The solution won’t be mine or come from me, but I did not want to remain silent when this trial seems to have confirmed my worst fears - that police would be carrying arms more often, have the opportunity to use them more often, and that the targets would most likely be minority cultures like my own.

Please do not carry forward to arming officers permanently in New Zealand. 

Anthea Whittle

I know, I owe a life/health update. Next month will be one year post-op so I think I’ll do it then.

Before that, I’m going to Rotorua! My boyfriend/excellent companion James and I are spending a week at the Regal Palms, which sounds suitably fancy and comes with a private tub and on-site mini-golf. The dream.

My problem now is, there is a major lack of authentic content about Rotorua that suits my travel aspirations. 

We’re not BIG adventure tourism people, that stuff is exhaustingly covered online. I’m looking for recommendations of activities (chilled, nice scenery), venues (music? theatre?), and eateries (fine dining, shared/tapas style, quality food)… That people “like us” would do – urbanish NZ’ers, not interested in NZ culture experiences or pre-packaged international level tourism. We want to know this quite cool bit of our own country. We are in Rotorua from the 29th Dec – 4th Jan.

So, things we (mostly I, James is not yet protesting) are interested in so far, perhaps for the benefit of others:

  1. Eat and/or swim at Blue Baths (pictured), deco/spanish style architecture faithfully restored, NZ historical significance. Looks damn cool. If only there was a show on when we are in town.
  2. Bathe and do massage-y pampery stuff at The Polynesian Spa, that’s their buzz
  3. Eat at Mokoia for a fancy night out (fine dining level). I like the look of this place for using NZ “herbs and spices”, which I’m familiar with already, but it’s a nice spin. Aorangi Peak has a better looking restaurant and scenery, but the menu doesn’t seem as interesting to me, or as good for my post-op tummy.
  4. Rotorua Summer Carnival is on from the 26th of December to the 9th of January. I could munch cotton candy and watch some people get sick on carnival rides.
  5. My only other real food lead is “Eat Streat” which was mentioned in the sole “blog” type piece I’ve been able to find of much use from (Massey Uni’s Massive Magazine). I am considering it credible because she’s from Rotorua and recommended an iced chocolate. Legit.
  6. New Years Eve “GLO party” is on lakeside. A “family designed” event with a load of things I am not the least keen for, but fireworks. A nice coffee lounge or chill lakeside bar from which these two not-so-party-keen people can watch the sparkles would be nice!
  7. An hour on an old boat. On a lake, sounds pretty. Lakeland Queen.
  8. The Thursday night may have to be spent wandering the Rotorua Night Market.
  9. Markets? Oh yes, there are also markets on a Saturday morning.

Do you have any other Rotorua Hot Tips? Give me the insiders’ guide!

Social Media Douchebag

A few years ago I sat in on a social media presentation from a well known (in Auckland/NZ) Social Media Expert.

This presenter was invited to review our brands (7 commercial radio stations), make recommendations and give examples for furthering these brands online (followers, engagement, driving traffic to websites).

What we sat through was more “this is Facebook, you can make a page” – as a media company well beyond that, for all of the presenter’s popularity (and many Twitter followers), it was underwhelming. Lacking all preparation and insight.

This is one of the main reasons I cringe when I hear about people who are “great at social media”, “social media gurus”. Being an “emerging” medium, I see too often fear, confusion, intimidation around using social media.

Nerds like me have had Facebook and Twitter accounts since 2006, that’s nearly ten years, I think we can drop the fear of the new.

So what does it take to be really great at helping businesses “further their brand”?

Understanding – the company, it’s resources, people’s skill levels and willingness to participate, the audience, the goals and a variety of tools.

Longevity – educating advocates within the business, scaling down or up to suit available resources of time, money and skill. A plan that stretches beyond a single campaign.

Creativity – using tools in new ways, relevant to the brand and it’s audience.

Sound familiar? Notice I said “further their brand”? This isn’t limited to social media.

Social Media: Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.


Social media are platforms that use the internet to allow people to interact and connect with each other one to one, or one to many. But they are just another channel for brands to get messages to their audience – like a website, magazine ad, radio ad, billboard. It’s communication, just like any other form of advertising or marketing.

What causes nervousness is the lack of understanding of the tools themselves. Social Media Douchebags know the tools well enough to intimidate those who don’t into believing that because they have thousands of Twitter followers they must be able to craft magic.

Why cringe about being called a “Social Media Expert”? It’s limiting. There is no secret sauce. Marketers should be stepping up, engaging their brains and filling this space, creating throwaway accounts and testing how to use the platform they are interested in, and recognising social media as just another tool.

Every marketer should be a social media expert. Add it to the tool box along with tv spots, radio air time, full page spreads, billboards, and do what you do best – focus on your message, your content, your audience.