Watchdog Turns 100

Readers' Comments

It seems like only yesterday that Watchdog first appeared, in the mid 1970s. But here we are at number 100 and it’s only taken us a mere quarter of a century to get here (slightly longer actually). For years the tatty little thing was printed by Bill Rosenberg on gestetners held together by wondrous means, machines bought and sold in a twilight world of vicarages and schools. One of our founders, Owen Wilkes, always claimed he loved the smell of the ink. Then it was printed by Greg Waite on an equally antedeluvian offset press, in a garage, until that died on us. So we had to find a real printer – Brian Mackay of Addington Print – who did it until he realised that it was taking him weeks to singlehandedly print each issue. Now the decidedly more upmarket magazine is produced on multimillion dollar machines and is ready within a day or two.

We’ve never opened up Watchdog’s pages to letters – at three issues per year it’s not practical, and frankly there’s not room, what with all the other stuff we have to fit into it. But we thought that turning 100 is a good enough reason to make an exception, and we can’t wait another 25 years. So we invited readers’ comments, and here they are. Ed.

Christian World Service congratulates CAFCA on this 100th issue of Watchdog. It represents a monumental amount of work and paper! CAFCA has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to researching some of the critical economic activity in Aotearoa New Zealand that affects all of us. We appreciate the extensive knowledge and analytical skills of those who write for Watchdog as well as the dedication to track what is happening in what are often very arcane documents. Like many others Christian World Service has benefited from CAFCA's work on the global economic forces that undermine people's livelihoods the world over. Keep up the good work! Gillian Southey, Christchurch.


There are few journals I always read - let alone from cover to cover. Watchdog is at the top of the list. It's a model of clarity in politics, integrity in its analysis, absence of bullshit and - that indispensable additive - good humour. Roger Moody, London.


May I pay a brief tribute to Watchdog. Watchdog is unique in political comment, being incisive, forthright, suitably disrespectful and witty. I have also appreciated the wonderfully lively obituaries. Noeline Gannaway, Wellington.


Hi there, I’d like to say how much we enjoy the CAFCA mailings and updates – great to see Carter Holt Harvey won the Grand Prize this year! (ie, the 2001 Roger Award. Ed.). Their only saving grace is they recently voluntarily abandoned their Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA)-approved GE pine field trial (due to public concern and the potentially irreversible ecological risks). One improvement you could make is more information on Genetic Engineering – rapacious multinationals are lurking, coveting NZ as a testing ground for their shonky experiments and crops (like PPL’s* nasty transgenic sheep). It’s critical we protect NZ’s quality primary production, growing organic industry and tourism (as well as finite resources like soils) from the adverse impacts of GE. Keep it GE FREE! Cheers. Z Vallings, Whangarei.


Dear Sir, Foreign Control Watchdog has been a source of invaluable information to me. My interest stems from involvement in the outdoors and in particular fishing and deerstalking but from that extends into general concern at the unceasing sell-off of land, sea fisheries, resources, infrastructure to overseas interests. With respect to the outdoors a major concern is the high country which often contains areas of high recreational value be it trout fishing, tramping, deerstalking or whatever. The problem is overseas buyers of runs frequently lock it up, set up a "lodge" or "safari park" concept, erect "Public! Keep Out" signs and charge incredibly high sums that only wealthy foreigners coming here can afford. The clicking turnstile philosophy locks out 99.9% of Kiwis. However when the settlers came here and liberated trout and game they enshrined in law the egalitarian principle that sport would be available for all; in short they sought to escape the feudal system where the sport is the preserve of the wealthy upper class. Successive governments have allowed the erosion of this. Birch and Bolger (leaders of the 1990s National government. Ed.) actually openly encouraged foreign buyers. Similarly past governments and this government have failed to call the Overseas Investment Commission (OIC) to heel and make it operate in the interests of Kiwis. Only Winston Peters and NZ First have shown any opposition to OIC. Foreign Control Watchdog is absolutely brilliant. The problem is to get it more widely read. Ideally every Kiwi should read it. I think at $15 a year it is incredibly good value and no one should cavil at this small investment into keeping New Zealand for New New Zealanders! Best wishes for the next 100 issues. Tony Orman, Marlborough.

A couple of editorial comments are called for. It is Tony’s opinion, not ours, that "only Winston Peters and NZ First have shown any opposition to OIC". This might ruffle feathers amongst our Alliance, Green and even some Labour members. See the cover story in this issue for our critical analysis of Winston Peters. Secondly, the $15 mentioned is the unwaged rate for annual CAFCA membership; $20 is the waged rate. We still think it’s pretty good value for money. Ed.


Outside of the Internet New Zealand has a dearth of publications that examine the hard facts of what is really going on in this country written by people you can trust. Foreign Control Watchdog is one of those all-too-rare publications that will be remembered two hundred years from now for telling things as they really were. Chris Wheeler, Christchurch.


Hi, I don't have anything profound to say about Watchdog: just that I hope it makes 200 and more - though I guess I can dream about it being unnecessary because those concerned about capitalist globalisation, colonialisation and all the systems that create power differences and inequalities between groups within Aotearoa and between countries have succeeded in transforming the world and making Watchdog unnecessary - but I am not holding my breath. So thank you very much, all of you in Christchurch and elsewhere who have done such a wonderful job in researching, networking, and publicising in such a wide range of areas: I use it to advance my own understanding and for teaching and raising awareness in my own networks. Yours, Prue Hyman, Wellington.


Dear Murray, My first encounter with a copy of Watchdog was in 1980, a few months after arriving in New Zealand as an immigrant. Back then Watchdog's claims seemed so far-out to me that I didn't believe a word of it! But being new to this country, it seemed to me that if there was any truth at all in all this, I'd better be aware of it. Since then, most of what shocked me back then has become public knowledge, and I've never known Watchdog to be wrong….. Bera MacClement, Auckland.


Greetings Murray - On behalf of the Organisation For Marxist Unity, may I extend warm greetings to all members of the production team of Foreign Control Watchdog on the occasion of its 100th issue. It's consistently high standard and insistence on thorough examination of facts sets a fine example. As an authoritative source of information concerning the extent of foreign ownership and influence, Foreign Control Watchdog makes a significant contribution to the democratic movement. This assessment is further deepened when relating CAFCA and its publication to the two major trends in the world today. The first trend is the drive by US imperialism and others, to colonise and control nation-states, their people and their economies. The second trend is the increasing efforts of nations and their people to achieve or retain control of their independence and sovereignty. Because the first trend is thoroughly reactionary and hostile to the basic needs of people it will fail. FCW identifies itself with the second trend, and because it is progressive, it will succeed. The strength of FCW lies precisely in it being an active participant in this international trend. May the FCW collective confidently plan for the next 100 issues with optimism. In these increasingly, complicated and challenging times, the contribution of FCW will be needed more than ever. Yours sincerely, Don Ross, Whangarei.


Congratulations Murray and Watchdog team on the 100th issue! You have provided a golden service to Aotearoa with every issue of searing commentary over the years. A medal of honour should be struck for Murray as a Lord of the realm (steady on there, Kay. Ed). Our thanks to you for the hard work. Long may the issues continue! Kay Weir, Editor, Pacific Ecologist, Wellington.


Congratulations Murray, "Your actions reveal your ideology" What about writing a book? Bruce Dyer, Nelson (Watchdog is a book, one that is being continually updated. Ed.).


Murray, Foreign Control Watchdog has been a valuable source of information to us for many years. It has been especially useful in highlighting the continuing sale of recreational resources (or the land surrounding them) to our members. Now the information is online - brilliant! Long may you prosper. Ken Sims Research Officer New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (Inc.) Executive Member - Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand (CORANZ), Palmerston North.


Well worthwhile having but to use a current watch call "Too much information" for the average bloke to read and digest. Constructive suggestion: Full version on line, summary or headliner issued as paper Watchdog. Regards, David Chilvers, Christchurch.


Hi Murray, Here are a few comments for your 100th. Congrats for turning 100. You must be the oldest lefty mag in New Zealand - and the best researched. I blame Foreign Control Watchdog for radicalising those Green MPs and making them distrust all those wonderful multinationals. Best wishes, Keith Locke, Green MP, Wellington.


* In case you’re wondering what is PPL, here is our most recent report on it (from the February 2000 decisions of the Overseas Investment Commission). Ed.

Genetic engineering firm, PPL Therapeutics, buys more King Country land

PPL Therapeutics (NZ) Ltd, a subsidiary of PPL Therapeutics Plc of the UK, has approval to acquire 20 hectares of land at 31 Sandel Road, Whakamaru, King Country for $337,500. The last such purchase by PPL was also at Whakamaru, in February 1998, when we reported that it had approval to acquire 93 hectares of land on Tihoi Road, State Highway 32, at Whakamaru, Taupo for $1,250,000. The rationale was almost identical to this decision, which says that

"PPL Therapeutics PLC is a United Kingdom public company primarily involved in the bio-production of commercially valuable therapeutic protein. … PPL intend to acquire the property which adjoins the applicant’s existing farming operations for the purpose of expanding their existing inseminated sheep breeding programme located within the Whakamaru District. It is stated the breeding programme will continue to provide additional employment opportunities to the local community, and require the ongoing introduction of investment capital for development purposes".

New is: "The applicant’s ongoing commitment to its New Zealand operations is evidenced by the intended development of a new milking facility on the property which is planned to be commissioned in 2001". This is presumably related to PPL’s objective to produce a human protein in the sheep’s milk. It is aiming for a production flock of up to 10,000 (Press, 17/3/99, "Public can comment on cow genetics bid", p9).

PPL is the company that made headlines by cloning the sheep "Dolly" in the UK. In May 1996 we reported that PPL Therapeutics had approval to acquire a 58 hectare farm at Whakamaru for $1,050,000. For further details, see our commentary on the August 1999 decision.

It takes a lot of work to compile and write the material presented on these pages - if you value the information, please send a donation to the address below to help us continue the work.

Foreign Control Watchdog, P O Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand/Aotearoa. August 2002.


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