About

This is a blog from a progressive perspective on politics, culture, and society – and the future of all of those things – in Aotearoa New Zealand and elsewhere.

My name is Max Harris.  I am a New Zealander living and studying in England, but hoping to stay connected to what’s going on back home.  I have a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Oxford, and am currently an Examination Fellow at All Souls College in Oxford.  I grew up in Wellington and overseas (in China and Indonesia), completed a BA/LLB(Hons.) degree in Auckland, and worked at the Supreme Court in Wellington as a clerk for Chief Justice Elias for 18 months before coming overseas.  The blog contains contributions I’ve written as well as guest posts from other contributors.  In addition to writing I’ve done, the blog contains writing by Andrew Dean, Renee Gerlich, Kinley Salmon, Philip McKibbin, Eliza Prestidge Oldfield, Stephen Dean, and difficult lemon.  If you’re interested in contributing or have any feedback, please get in touch with me at mxharris at gmail dot com.

The aspiration for this blog is that it can provide writing that is oriented towards the future of Aotearoa (not just the present); that considers some of the deeper principles and under-currents in politics, culture, and society; and that draws on trends overseas that may be relevant to developments back home.  The posts centre mostly around issues of progressive politics, human rights and criminal justice, public policy, New Zealand culture, and constitutional law.

10 Responses to About

  1. Don Matheson says:

    Hi Max, I have only today encountered your blog. I read with great interest and connection your essay on love as a unifying value in the political realm. Also your personal account of your journey with Marfan’s like syndrome. You are a very engaging writer, and have much to offer, and your ability to write in the presence of immediate threat is inspiring.
    This last week I attended a launch of a short book on the ‘turning back the boats’ argument (here in Brisbane). It was interesting to observe the tension between the ‘moral arguments’ ( or values based) which are irrefutable ( and the rationale of why unhcr was established) and the pragmatic labour politics, in terms of what the electorate thinks ( ie what focus groups think). The tragedy seems to be is that we have increasingly conflated these two positions- instead of a strong values base progressively moulding the political realm, the compromise that is inherent in politics has dictated the values position. The idea that Values and morals are not based on current public opinion, which is largely generated by the neoliberal media apparatus seems to have been lost in the political process.
    Kia kaha,
    Don Matheson

    • mxharris says:

      Don, thanks so much for writing this, and sorry to only reply to you now. I’d love to be in touch more – I have your email through your comment so let’s follow up. What you say about the tension between moral and pragmatic arguments is very interesting. I agree that morality and pragmatism seem to have been conflated. The project ahead is to try to reassert values in politics once more, I think. Thanks again for commenting – and hope we can be in touch more.

  2. unmelborn says:

    Hi Max
    And now for something completely different… I read in NZ Listener about your fab achievements and see you’re an author and lawyer who loves. I wonder if you are able to use your skills and influence to help a fellow Kiwi Scott Watson, who is clearly an innocent man, serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit? Class has definitely been an issue in this case. If you look at the The Free Scott Watson FB page you’ll see they are floundering and could use the help of a good bloke such as yourself. Here’s hoping…

  3. Marvin Hubbard says:

    Dear Max Harris
    I produce Community or Chaos an educational radio programme on OAR (Community Access Radio in Otago). This radio programme features one hour of conversation or interview between myself as host with a studio guest, interspersed with music . The interviews take place at OAR Radio, located at Community House corner of Moray Place and Great King Street. When Tuesdays at 11 AM to noon.
    I would like to interview you on On Tuesday 11 AM to noon, or I can do a pre- record.
    My Phone no is 0064/ 03/ 473-9188.
    Could you get back to me ASAP ?
    Kind Regards Marvin Hubbard
    I have interviewed such people as
    • • Professor Erica Chenoweth, (Associate Dean for Research at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver). On Why Civil Resistance Works’
    • • Mayor or Dunedin, Dave Cull
    • • David Eggleton, Poet and writer, former Burns Fellow, Otago University
    • • Prof. Robert Patman, Head of Political Studies, University Otago on Current American Politics
    • • Neville Pete City Councilor discussing Dunedin as a Centre for Wildlife
    • • Sharon Stewart – Clinical Leader. Otago Hospice & Janine Winters – Palliative Medicine Specialist. Otago Hospice
    • • Dr Nick Chapman Dept of Political &Social Change Australian National University
    • • The situation in Myanmar of non- Buddhist ethnic groups such as the Rohingya Muslims.
    • • Matthew Gillett LLB/BA, on the International Criminal Tribunal
    • • Dr Pat Langhorne Professor Physics studying Sea Ice and Climate Change. University Otago
    • • Professor Mark Henaghan Dean of the Law Faculty University Otago
    • • John Peet author of “Energy And the Ecological Economics Of Sustainability”,
    • • Dr.Viktoria Kahui Natural Resource Economics
    • • Sam Day Editor and advocate for Mordechai Vanunu Israeli prisoner of conscience and nuclear weapons whistle blower.
    • • Yari HirschfeId Israeli Negotiator In Oslo with the PLO.
    • • Barney Tayhapia Maori elder and representative of Atari Marae.
    • • Jeremy Waldron Professor of Jurisprudence
    • • David Suzuki Canadian environmentalist.


    • mxharris says:

      Hi Marvin, thanks for getting in touch. I have your email through your comment and will send you a line now. I would love to do an interview with you. – Max

  4. Margaret Guthrie says:

    Dear Max Harris,
    Having read “the new zealand project”, my grand-daughter – in -law and I were also at your address at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, both of which we found absorbing and stimulating.
    There is one subject in the book the exclusion of which puzzled me.
    When discussing issues such as family violence, child and other forms of abuse, there is no mention of the role alcohol and our binge bringing culture, may play in generating the aggression behind such behaviours. Yet, when Europeans first settled in in the Bay of Islands Kororareka became the so-called hellhole of the South Pacific awash with alcohol fueled violence. We did not just furnish Maori with guns which made their tribal warfare more deadly: we also provided them with liquor. Alcohol in moderation is for many of us the social drug of choice but the impact of excessive use has paid a part in much of our destructive behaviour. Those effects over times have become such a feature of the NZ scene that a few years ago the Law Commission, headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer issued a report ” Alcohol in Our Lives: Curbing the Harm.”

    In an article on 28/04/2010 Sir Geoffrey wrote ;- ” Every New Zealander has a social and economic interest in ensuring future generations are not born impaired by their exposure to alcohol in the womb; we all have have an interest in ensuring that our young people do not fail to reach their potential as a result of early exposure to alcohol; and we all have an interest in ensuring that the taxes we direct to hospitals, police cells and prisons are not squandered on preventable alcohol-related cases.
    The subject of our report is a social battleground replete with both passions and prejudices. We have tried to steer a reasonable course around these policy whirlpools and fashion a report that will address the needs of society as a whole.”

    Government chose to cherry pick the few recommendations of that report they were prepared to implement. Is not alcohol fueled violence a major New Zealand issue which many of us chose to deny?

  5. Caril Cowan says:

    The New Zealand Project is the most exciting political activity since the Values Party took the country by storm. Thank you Max for this hard work. I will be using your book I educational programme I write plus informally eg copy to my 18yr old granddaughter and others. This will enhance the conversations we need. Kia kaha as you continue this vital work.

    • mxharris says:

      This is incredibly kind of you to say. Would love to hear more about your educational programme – and what your granddaughter thinks! Kia kaha to you too.

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