Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan Affiliates -- FCCJ consistently at Hinge of History

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan has affiliated with the National Press Club, reinforcing the New Zealand club’s international linkages. In fact, no other such club anywhere can claim to be so close to the hinge of history as the FCCJ.

The club began in 1945 under the occupation lead by General Douglas MacArthur and the FCCJ was again to find its fortunes hitched to the MacArthur star during the Korean War.

The club has been a consistent unifying force for journalists with its over-arching status across the entire sector.

It’s presence in Tokyo is also a reminder of the Japanese enduring passion for print led by the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of the nation’s five national dailies and which has a circulation of over nine million.

The club was a listening post for journalists covering the Cold War.

It afforded its members eyewitness status to the most remarkable economic surge of modern times and notably so to New Zealand journalists as Japan became the first and largest Asian trading partner following Britain’s original membership of the Common Market as the EU was then known.

The FCCJ forged an early reputation for the inclusiveness of its membership and also for the way in which it platforms a diversity of speakers. Our illustration shows Euro-Asian car czar Carlos Ghosn at the podium.

With several thousand members the FCCJ over the years has hosted members of the British Royal Family and the Imperial House.

Banished Botanist Dr Bob Brockie Revealed As Antipodean David BellamyDr Bob Brockie’s role as the antipodean version of his fellow botanist the late Dr David Bellamy was a discussion point at the 21st annual gathering for Central Districts journalists held at the Te Horo estate of the Morgan family.

Dr Brockie confirmed at the convocation that he now received journalistic assignments but now only on a bi-lateral or barter payment basis such as for a “bottle of wine.”

All this is a far cry from the era which ended so recently for the internationally-acclaimed botanist when he was resident commentator for the Fairfax chain and also the National Business Review.

The New Zealand division of Fairfax appears to have dispensed with Dr Brockie on doctrinal grounds, a process hastened by a Brockie column proclaiming that the Treaty of Watangi had “no place” in “scientific endeavour.”

This followed Dr Brockie’s lukewarm editorial posture toward the chain’s own ardently self-proclaimed uncritical advocacy of fashionable climate theories characterised by the candidly-proclaimed policy of banning anything contrary to this stance.

. Dr Brockie’s exile from the print mainstream echoes that of his equally flamboyant botanical comrade at arms Dr David Bellamy who, following his refusal to endorse the United Nations line on climate lost all his broadcasting contracts, everywhere.

In discussions at the gathering Dr Brockie, globally considered the foremost authority on Erinaceinae, the hedgehog, declined to specify if the bottles now offered to him as payment were premier cru, vintage, or of the cleanskin supermarket grade.

Mike Moore Had Built-In Shock Absorbers

In the modern history of careers there are few who can match the trajectory of Mike Moore who has died at the age of 71. Starting as an unskilled manual labourer he became for two years the head of the World Trade Organisation.

A regular guest at the National Press Club Mike Moore possessed built-in shock absorbers that allowed him to circumvent university education, and indeed, any real formal education at all, and yet attain the highest offices such as the WTO one, and the prime ministership of New Zealand, however briefly.

Mike Moore, pictured here being introduced by National Press Club president Peter Isaac on the occasion of Moore’s launching a campaign for a formal Constitution, was a constant communicator with the happy knack of an equally consistent ability to engage his audience, be they individuals or groups. His trademark was a candour blended with a humorous analysis of the driest of situations.

He was among the last of the authentic working class Labour Party potentates and a winning aspect of his persona was that he never sought to explain or promote his humble origins in order to draw attention to his spectacular rise in the world.

As ambassador to Washington his vernacular style accurately mirrored his country, as did his obvious enthusiasm to help out personally when the opportunity arose.

A curiosity about Moore was that one could never imagine him alone and thus without the constant human interaction, hostile or friendly, that appeared to fire his brimming energy in spite of much of his career being beset by his own anything but robust physical constitution.

In the event Moore turned any solitude to advantage by causing to be published boisterous political tracts in the form of books with titles such as Beyond TodayA Pacific Parliament, and Fighting for New Zealand.

His last communication with the National Press Club was two years ago in response to an invitation to participate in an event and in its way typical of his simple yet evocative delivery. It read:-

Dear Peter,

I must be quiet for another 6 months.



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.


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