Tony Haas who has died after a long illness was an advocacy journalist whose mercantilist skills allowed him to pursue his central crusade which was the recognition of native Pacific cultures - National Press Club Inc.Tony Haas who has died after a long illness was an advocacy journalist whose mercantilist skills allowed him to pursue his central crusade which was the recognition of native Pacific cultures. This cause saw him zig-zagging the Pacific and at various times a working resident of many Pacific Islands and also of Japan and Singapore.

Haas managed throughout a half century working career to combine his triple passions of academic research, support for those he perceived as underdogs, and that of operating as an independent writer-publisher..

All these purposes from the outset converged on Oceania which became his central preoccupation in terms of journalistic coverage and in arranging practical assistance in his role as freelance aid promoter.

Anthony Roger Haas was born in 1944 into a recently-established Pahiatua farming family. His father having fled Germany just prior to the outbreak of World War 2. This provenance was to imbue Haas the younger with the sense of internationalism that was to become the leitmotif of his adult life.

Haas entered daily journalism from academia at a time when journalism was only beginning to make the transition from blue collar employment to a post-Watergate phase in which it became respectable and sought-after quasi professional career for the aspiring middle class.

Haas’ timing was fortuitous also in entering the craft before it became fashionable and thus competitive and therefore somewhat inhospitable to reporters departing from the assignment book and the institutional career path.

Haas throughout his own long career displayed though an ability that habitually eludes journalists from whatever background—the technique of turning contacts into enterprise partners, monetising them.

The National Press Club stalwart’s dedication to minority causes had begun as a student at Victoria University and it was here that he flourished as a student politician.

His ability to adapt to any collegiate environment was to become his hallmark even though poor eyesight was to rule out any sporting proficiency and thus deny him the gift outright of the varsity experience during its gilded era in the 1960s.

It was at Victoria University that he encountered Michael King. As flat mates they effectively divided Oceania between them.

Michael King became the defining popular author of the Maori experience while Haas in his own words took the “side road” into the Pacific islands.

Before his own untimely death Michael King urged Haas to produce a mirror of King’s own autobiographical testament, Being Pakeha. This eventually happened with the launch in 2015 of Tony Haas’ own long incubated 2015 autobiography Being Palangi – My Pacific Journey.

In his final full time employee daily newspaper job Haas took to heart the counsel of Wellington Evening Post editor Ken Poulton to the effect that he should cease the undergraduate life-style and acquire a house.

This Haas did, acquiring one of the very last inner city rambling bungalows which now became both residence and the headquarters for his diversified publishing operations.

A burly, jovially persuasive and indeed, forceful fellow, Haas was a natural as an entrepreneurial journalist selling advertising and indeed entire publication concepts to willing sponsors. His Decision Maker series became the defining glossies on the Pacific through the terminating decades of the last century.

Haas during these years garnered the goodwill of journalist contributors by always paying them regardless of the success or otherwise of the project.

He nimbly trod the path between the raffish milieu of reporters and that of the unctuously fawning sphere of public relations. He successfully presented himself as a researcher before this term too became tarnished by time and over-use.

To his fellow journalists, those in regular employment, Haas presented a somewhat Pasha like figure disappearing for months at a time to a property in the Marlborough Sounds, a rich hunting ground for the rarified and well-placed types that he so enjoyed weaving into his variegated publishing projects.

A natural organiser, Haas in these years also designed and participated in numerous voluntary forays into the Pacific for both cultural and for three-dimensional commercial aid projects.

His objectives were much aided by his ability as an event manager which in part took the form of throwing publication launch parties for contributors and sponsors alike.

In his later years Haas, a secular Jew, diverted some of his energies toward Europe and his own provenance. This was remarkable by any standards.

His grandfather was a member of the German Bundestag and as a determined opponent to the Nationalist Socialist, Nazi Party, is increasingly being viewed nowadays in Germany as the last politician who could have stopped World War 2.

In the event his grandfather told his son, Tony Haas’ father, to put as much distance as he possibly could between himself and Germany.

This the father did and acquired the family farm near Pahiatua shortly before the outbreak of the war.

It was here that Haas was born and grew up. Subsequently Haas always described himself as being at heart a farm boy.

When the internet ultimately undermined his publishing business it was to the Wairarapa Valley that Haas now returned for his final years which were spent on a leafy street in Greytown.

It was here that he instituted his final journalistic project in the form of a rural self help column in the community news sheet Grapevine.

He was much engaged in the resurgence in Germany of interest surrounding his grandfather and made one last excursion, this time to Karlsruhe, his ancestor’s old constituency.

As his final years slipped by Haas was much gratified to become actively involved in all details of the definitive book under preparation by a Berlin publisher on his illustrious ancestor Ludwig Haas who had once stood at the global hinge of fate.

Tony Haas is survived by his wife Dr Patricia Donnelly and their children.

Mick Bienowski: Out of Siberia

Mick Bienowski’s trademark convivial magnanimity of spirit belied the horrific nature of his arrival in New Zealand which was via a labour camp in Siberia which is where he found himself in the aftermath of the Russo-German invasion of Poland at the outbreak of World War 2.

He had the incredible good fortune, as he saw it, to be among the now-famous contingent of Polish children who eventually found refuge in Pahiatua, New Zealand.

Mick Bienowski (pictured at a National Press Club event in 2014) who has died at the age of 87 after a long illness was a long-standing member under the newsmaker category which in his case was due to his work as staging constructor at Wellington’s John Street show buildings which with its cavernous interior was the main large capacity venue of its era.

Mick had earlier discovered the show buildings and their value when he used them to display his quick-build homes, a now much publicised genre of which he remains an unacknowledged pioneer.

Here, at the show buildings, he was responsible for configuring touring pop shows as well as sporting events, notably WWF fixtures which as a wrestling enthusiast himself were a particular interest.

Mick Bienowski as soon as he could in New Zealand took up a building apprenticeship, became a master builder, and in Wellington established MB Construction after his own initials which in turn corresponded by chance with the branding of the Master Builders industry group, as he would gleefully point out.

A keen outdoorsman, he revelled in the New Zealand ethic, yet he was always conscious that his manual dexterity had allowed him to survive the war, and he was keen to take his ability out into the community and did so by instructing Maori groups in woodworking, and also in the practical side of prisoner rehabilitation through employment in the construction sector.

He is survived by his son and daughter.

Rex Benson was NZ Herald X-Word Compiler Kropotkin

The death at 75 after a long illness of National Press Club events organiser Rex Benson brought to an end the life and times of one of Wellington’s most diversified talents. It was typical of Rex that while he handled club events he also doubled as secretary- treasurer.

He was a big picture man and a detail devotee. He was best known however as Kropotkin the cryptic crossword compiler of the New Zealand Herald. To this task Rex brought a formidable computer-based firepower. This allowed full flight to his imagination while forestalling any repetition and doubling up of ingredients.

His personal interests were quite literally multicultural encompassing bridge, opera, wine and literature.

In counterpoint to these he was an ardent rugby fan who dedicated infinite air miles in pursuit of the touring All Blacks.

Wanganui-born Rex came to Wellington as a student and gained an early interest in journalism via the Victoria University student newspaper Salient.

His career was taken up in market research where he specialised in data analysis and in doing so became something of an information technology pioneer.

He never lost his university-era interest in radical politics and this was reflected in his own self-branding as Kropotkin a Russian philosopher and anarchist.

He is survived by his wife Judith and their children.

Victoria Gaither with National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne and Dr Ian CouttsVictoria Gaither with National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne and Dr Ian Coutts

Reluctance to admit mistakes also contributes to erosion of faith in journalism claims US Broadcaster Victoria Gaither

Viewers are becoming increasingly confused about those they see on television. “Is the person a pundit, a contributor, a reporter? Asked United States broadcaster Victoria Gaither speaking to the National Press Club.

“Who exactly is what?” Miss Gaither followed up noting the growing disaffection of what she described as the “disempowered” voters, the ones who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency.

“All these new jobs crept into television news,” she observed, “and in the end, like the pollsters, they got it all wrong.”

Miss Gaither with US broadcaster Patricia Sexton

Miss Gaither with US broadcaster Patricia Sexton

The underpinning flaw in the media coverage of the presidential election and its aftermath was simply that the “quietest segment” of the population, the one far away from the coastal elites, had become “activated” and the media failed to realise it.

The mainstream’s failure to make corrections when rumour was put forward as fact, and later disproved, further contributed to the diminishing trust in the media.

There are frequent references to “fact checkers” observed the Washington National Press Club stalwart, but never is there a candid admission to the effect “we messed up.”

Instead, there is an attempt to “gloss over” the incident.

This behaviour constantly “erodes” the quiet segment of the electorate’s “faith in journalism,” as does the mainstream’s continuing to ignore these same people

With media lawyer Graham Holmes

With media lawyer Graham Holmes

In her no-notes address and commenting on president Trump’s role as an agent of change Miss Gaither urged the US mainstream to accept the shifts that the “unfiltered” president had wrought in this activation of the hitherto quiet segment, as she described the demographic.

This portion of the electorate will remain “activated” regardless of whether the mainstream approved of this state of affairs.

The closure of newspapers in the Midwest of the United States was a contributor to this sense this new quiet constituency had of “losing their voice.”

Miss Gaither who is a radio entrepreneur in the Central Districts of New Zealand had returned to this country only days before reported the strong current media interest in several recent events here.

Printer Jeff Beaumont with Melody Criglington and Gail Isaac

Printer Jeff Beaumont with Melody Criglington and Gail Isaac

One was the pick up on the picaresque holidaying family of gypsies or “travellers” from Britain strewing their refuse over beauty spots, standing over any locals seeking to challenge them, and generally behaving like an outlaw band.

Another was the coverage of prime minister Jacinda Ardern giving birth while in office and then taking Baby Neave with her to proceedings at the United Nations.

Earthquakes were routinely covered.

She noted the heavy coverage about the United States in New Zealand, which contrasted with the paucity of news from and about the United Kingdom, notably about Brexit.

Emmy-award winning Miss Gaither began her career at ABC with Ted Koppel and worked throughout the United States, notably in Baltimore and the Midwest.

The speaker displayed a selection of Beltway accessories

The speaker displayed a selection of Beltway accessories

Conceding the continuing unease in Washington due to the presidential unpredictability and the between- tweets-apprehension she also discounted the slew of inquiries, especially the long-running one conducted by Robert Mueller as an example of investigation overload.

Beyond the beltway and the political classes there existed an investigation fatigue in which investigation communiques “went in one ear and out the other.”

Contrary to the impression radiated by the US media, president Trump’s base “Hispanics-you-name them” still held firm.

Neither, as the mainstream had predicted, had president Trump “fractionated” the Republican Party.

Recalling that her great great grandmother had been a slave, Miss Gaither clarified overseas impressions about racial allegiances, notably one prevalent in the Commonwealth to the effect that it was the Democrat Party that was historically tied to the emancipation of slaves.

In the historical event it was the Republican Party under President Lincoln that had been responsible for ending slavery.

It was the Democratic Party’s failure to see that loyalties it had subsequently built up were fraying that was still another still only partially recognised factor leading to the Trump ascendancy, she commented.

Central Districts visitors Brian and Carole Jackson with Martin Jenkins

Central Districts visitors Brian and Carole Jackson with Martin Jenkins

New Zealand she concluded was a victim of the US mainstream media’s being dazzled by the Beltway- coastal enclave elites and political classes and their corresponding inability to peer into the middle of their own country and thus analyse what was actually going on.

New Zealand media feeds came exclusively from this self-same mainstream media with its deliberate narrow opinion and news gathering catchment.

Thus New Zealand and without understanding it became the passive victim of this restricted coverage, confined as it was, and is, to news and opinions derived from unrepresentative socio-geographic zones.

In place of taking an objective analysis of events, and learning from them, the mainstream instead was wringing its collective hands and asking itself “How did all this happen?”

Dear Sir

I was greatly concerned with Stuff’s Editor-in-Chief Patrick Crewdson’s proclamation to disallow articles that challenged climate-change in his company’s publications. I was nonetheless heartened to see that a Mr Andy Esperson of Nelson had complained about this to the Media Council.

As Mr Esperson’s complaint however was not upheld I considered your organisation as perhaps the only court of appeal available to apply pressure to reinstate the previous status quo.

In New Zealand greenhouse gas estimates are the result of computer modelling studies.

These estimates are therefore speculative rather than proven and subsequently globally the warming theories remain challenged by a substantial body of science.

The Fairfax organisation’s decision to shut down any debate on the topic remains worrying.

The Media Council’s decision to support Fairfax in ignoring any contrary discussion is even more concerning.

The only reasoning that I can come to is that the Fairfax decision must be ascribed to a marketing drive to encourage subscriptions among younger and therefore more ideologically-prone subscribers.

The Media Council meanwhile could therefore be viewed as deliberately encouraging censorship on a current topic and one that a large range of citizenry regard as still being up for debate.

There is also the matter of Fairfax’s dominant position, indeed exclusive presence, in many cities in which there are substantial scientific research institutes.

For instance Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington, and Hamilton would be among them.

There was a time when such cities accommodated rival newspapers proclaiming their political allegiances.

The belief is that the subsisting newspaper, in the absence of this rivalry, should take an impartial line.

The Fairfax chain and with the endorsement of the Media Council now emphatically infers that this state of affairs of balance ceases to exist.

Yours faithfully

Rick Long

(Mr Long for many years has been a municipal and regional councillor and is currently a District Health Board member)

MSC Newswire Founder Max Farndale Reached Million-Plus Audience

MSC Newswire Founder Max Farndale Reached Million-Plus Audience

Max Farndale founder of MSC Newswire, the National Press Club’s associate site, has died suddenly at his home in Napier.

The National Press Club’s association with the site began four years ago and it reached a peak of activity this year when monthly visits reached 1.2 million.

Mr Farndale configured the site around an international audience, reasoning that New Zealand media had become over-localised.

Burly and affable and well known in Auckland athletic circles, notably in cycling and running, Mr Farndale had worked in production engineering and travel before arriving in the publishing sector.

MSC Newswire became renowned for its predictions including the ascendancy of Donald Trump, and the fall of the National Party in the New Zealand general election.

Broadcasting Career Took Steve Whitehouse into UN inner circles

Witness to global peace keeping
operations for 30 years

Stephen Whitehouse’s career began in broadcasting in Wellington and took him to the inner circles of United Nations headquarters in New York where secretary general Kofi Annan described the New Zealander’s technique as the “Whitehouse Way.”

He led the United Nations radio and television unit and his 30 year career there took him throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, and the Balkans during which time he witnessed and recorded many commotions.

Stephen Alexander Whitehouse who has died in the United Kingdom suddenly at the age of 73 emigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1952.

He grew up in Wellington in an artistic and bohemian household, his mother, actress Davina Whitehouse, being a central figure in the young country’s burgeoning cultural scene. Visitors to the home included a young Sam Neil, Richard Campion (father of Jane), and Peter Jackson. The opening frames of Jackson’s film ‘Brain Dead’ were shot on the beach outside his mother’s house.

After graduating from Victoria University, Wellington, where he had excelled as a revue writer and performer, he worked for the Broadcasting Corporation before moving to Hong Kong for a stint on the South China Morning Post. A keen jazz enthusiast (he played tenor saxophone) he leapt at the chance to work at the UN and lived in the Park Slope, Brooklyn (the ‘real New York’ as he put it) from the early 70’s.

Retiring to Sandwich, Kent, he worked on the Festival Committee, took up the banjo, joined the local Liberal Democrats, avidly watched cricket and rugby and listened to his beloved Radio New Zealand, returning to Wellington every year for the NZ summer.

An enthusiastic amateur historian, he was also a volunteer at Sandwich Museum. A keen sailor during his earlier years, he recently became a trustee for the P22 gunboat.

Steve is survived by his wife Lynne O’Donoghue, sons Sasha and Sam from his first marriage, a stepdaughter Alexandra and stepson Daniel.

 

Denis Adam, Insurance Tycoon, Philanthropist, RAF Pilot

The death in his 95th year after a long illness of Denis Adam brings to an end the era in which astute and cultivated Europeans did so much to set the tone of post-World War 2 New Zealand. He was the last of the independent philanthropists and his endowments in creative arts in terms of awards and buildings remain a constant and visible reminder of his generosity.

His range of interests extended into many nooks and crannies of capital life. He was for example for many years an active member of the National Press Club. He is pictured receiving his Life Membership plaque from the club’s vice president Peter Bush.

His career was testimony to a singular application of his diverse skills and especially so in regard to what made sense commercially.

Early in his days in New Zealand he became the proprietor of a petrol station in Petone and it was here that he anticipated the growth in motor vehicle insurance.

This now became the foundation of his insurance broking business, a sector which he would come to dominate.

He rarely referred to his life prior to his arrival in New Zealand, other than to make an occasional wistful or ironic reference to his earlier days in relation to his subsequent career in the Antipodes.

His background was in fact extraordinary.

He was for example one of the handful of Germans in World War 2 flying with the RAF

Denis Frederick Adam was born in Germany in 1924 to a family of secular Jews.

At an early age he was sent to boarding school in Britain and he was to retain subsequently vestiges of a clipped British private school accent.

His parents followed him to Britain upon the ascendancy of Hitler,

As soon as he was able he joined the RAF. If anyone were to bring up the topic, he would be careful to point that his experience had been predominantly in Typhoons rather than in Spitfires.

Upon demobilisation he contemplated a career as a journalist, an idea he tested on his commanding officer.

“Don’t do that,” he was told. “At the end of your career you will have nothing to show for it.”

Having met a number of New Zealanders while serving in the RAF, it was now that he decided upon a mercantilist career and also to embark upon it in New Zealand.

He was the younger brother of Sir Ken Adam who was responsible for the film sets for the James Bond films and for those of Stanley Kubrick, among many others. .

Sir Ken Adam, also an RAF pilot, predeceased him by two years.

Denis Adam was a signature figure of the Wellington business district for many years operating out of his modest Adam Foundation office in the old DIC building.

Always immaculately attired in a three-piece business suit and a tan overcoat he drove himself to and fro in a classic era Rolls Royce.

In his office he made himself available to a wide selection of citizenry dispensing in his matter-of-fact manner advice, if called for, gathered from his own experience in so many different fields.

He was appointed OBE and CNZM.

He is survived by his widow Verna.

 

David Yallop Inspired NZ's
Andrew Little to
Take Up Underdog Cause

Late Author defied institutions

David Yallop who has died in Britain at the age of 81 is credited by the New Zealand Labour Party cabinet member Andrew Little as precipitating him into a career dedicated to serving the “underdog.”

Mr Little shortly after his election as leader of the Labour Party confessed to NZ Lawyer publication that reading Mr Yallop had propelled him both into law and serving the Labour Party.

“I’d read a book about the Derek Bentley case in the UK – he was the last person to be hanged in England – and that piqued my interest,” Mr Little is quoted as saying.

“That was also at the time of Arthur Allan Thomas and the Royal Commission Inquiry, and I’d admired the various lawyers that [he] had…I liked the idea of using a legal qualification to battle for the underdog.”

Mr Little went on to study philosophy, law and public policy at Victoria University in Wellington

Upon graduation he was hired as a solicitor for the Engineers Union, which later became the EPMU and which also represented journalists.

Mr Yallop and Mr Little at various times both addressed the National Press Club.

Mr Yallop did so after the publication of his book To The Ends of the Earth about the career and eventual capture of Carlos aka The Jackal.

Mr Yallop demonstrated the depth and spread of his groundwork when in referring to the late Libya strongman Colonel Gaddafi he was asked by a member of the audience how he knew the correct pronunciation of the dictator’s name.

“He told me,” shot back the author.

After cutting his teeth on the British Craig-Bentley murder-capital punishment case in his book To Encourage The Others, Mr Yallop consolidated his reputation as a miscarriage of justice author with Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

In this he drew together many of the threads on the Pukekawa murders originally exposed by the Auckland Star’s Pat Booth (see also obituary below)

Mr Yallop along the way published other books with similarly ringing titles in which he challenged internationally sporting bodies, notably FIFA, and also the Roman Catholic church and its Papacy.

Mr Little meanwhile stood aside in 2017 to allow Jacinda Ardern MP to become leader of the Labour Party.

He continues though his destiny inspired by David Yallop as minister of justice among other cabinet-rank portfolios.

 

Connie Lawn
Brought Luminous Era
to Radio New Zealand

The death at 73 of Connie Lawn evokes for many the epoch in which Radio New Zealand set the news agenda throughout Oceania

Miss Lawn broadcasting from Washington became the best known of an international group of correspondents then featuring regularly on the news hours.

Miss Lawn’s renown centred on her Washington reports to Radio New Zealand’s morning segment prior to the start of the working day which in this era was required listening for what would now be described as the political class.

Her era in this role was encapsulated in her autobiographical work You Wake Me Each Morning which went through several editions.

Based on this experience Miss Lawn who died on April 2 after a long illness, Parkinson’s, became an unofficial consul in Washington shepherding itinerant New Zealanders in their desired direction.

Miss Lawn was made Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and received the National Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the insignia of which she donated to the Washington National Press Club where it remains on display.

She was in her later years the Dean of the White House Press Corps, having served there for half a century.

Connie Lawn brought a luminous element to her foreign correspondent role thus presaging in a curious way the current RNZ scheme to recover its pre-eminence by grafting onto itself a television channel.

For most of her career she was freelance having incorporated herself as Audio Video News which was to achieve an international clientele.

She is survived by her husband Dr Charles Sneiderman and her two sons David and Daniel.

Miss Lawn is photographed in The Beehive in 2006 receiving her National Press Club Lifetime Achievement Award from Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey.

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