MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.

NZ Men’s Summit 2005 – Report part two

Filed under: Domestic Violence,General,Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 1:53 pm Sat 7th May 2005

Firstly, welcome to any new readers who heard about MENZ Issues for the first time at the Summit yesterday. I look forward to any contributions you might be inspired to make.

I have to confess that my note-keeping tailed off somewhat after the first few sessions, however if all goes according to plan there will be a future publication of the papers presented. They will also be made available on the web. What follows is a brief summary of the other presentations I attended, and some of my personal reflections on the summing up.

Warwick Pudney: Violence – the Cost to Men
Warwick spoke about the way our society condones violence against men, usually perpetrated by other men, but inflicted by women as well. He made a compelling argument that we will not successfully reduce violence in our community until we address all forms of abuse against all members of society.

Stuart Birks: Men – What Needs Researching and How
Stuart’s presentation of some of the statistical myths and legends which drive social policy was fascinating, as was his discussion about the way information gets disseminated being part of the problem. As he pointed out, it is of great concern when a Cabinet Minister quotes a study that he knows has been thoroughly discredited, as Steve Maharey did recently.

Paul Callister: Fathers: Overworked and Undervalued?
Paul outlined recent statistics on working families, which show NZ fathers have some of the longest working weeks in the western world. He also showed how the “double burden” which is promoted as applying only to working mothers, applies even more so to men.

Jim Bagnall: Family Court — Marginalised Men
Jim outlined his experiences in the various Auckland Courts, particularly the local Waitakere Court, where Judge Mather recently refused to allow a father to have Jim as a McKenzie friend as is his legal right. Jim then introduced three fathers who used their own stories to illustrate the three main areas where the Court fails to uphold basic principles of justice.

  • Section 16B of the Guardianship Act (which says that anyone accused of violence is automatically considered not suitable to have custody of children unless they can prove they are innocent)
  • Strategic use of false allegations to obtain Domestic Protection Orders so as to invoke 16B
  • Putting the interests of mothers ahead of children in re-location and Hague Convention cases

If I published anything about the first two cases I could be imprisoned for breaching the Family Court secrecy laws, but the third father’s case is very much in the public domain. Stephen Jelicich told us that despite receiving a perforated ear-drum during a prolonged, drunken assault by his wife Diane, the Family Court decided she was the best parent for their baby daughter and allowed her to return to Wales with Caitlin. Knowing her history of mental illness (which was ignored by the court), and her tendency towards extreme violence when drunk, Stephen is now fearful for Catlin’s safety.

Kim Workman: Men, Prisons and the Community
The former head of the NZ Prison Service pointed out despite politicians of a wide range of ideologies being keen to jump on the law’n-order bandwagon, it is well-established that the longer you keep prisoners locked up, the greater the likelihood they will re-offend. With a proportion of our population imprisoned second only to the USA, every NZ community will have thousands of ex-prisoners coming to live among them every year, so policies which are demonstrated to increase crime need to be reversed. Kim discussed the development of faith-based units in prisons to support men who are ready to turn their lives around, and the necessity for support and rehabilitation services need to be integrated into local communities so that it continues well beyond the end of a sentence.

Phil Chapman: Problems and Possibilities of Advocating Men’s Issues
Phil demonstrated his greatest asset; a sense of humour which clearly serves him well in his work. He talked about his facilitation of antenatal groups for fathers-to-be, and some of the difficulties he has faced working in a predominantly female environment. He pointed out how men working with men need to be aware that guys will usually try and bullshit you when you ask how they are, and that you need to dig down a bit before they open up and discuss their fears and deeper concerns. Phil is a great model for an advocate who can confront the serious issues without compromise, but in a caring and compassionate manner that disarms resistance.

The final panel turned into a bit of a free-for-all discussion, which if I was to make any criticism of the day, I would say we could have usefully had much more of. There were many suggestions about how to move forward, and about how to reinforce the web of contacts that has grown over the last decade. There was much talk about the need for more leadership, although I got the strong impression that any move towards an individual supreme leader would meet strong resistance. Several people mentioned using websites as a clearing-house for information, a role which I would like to see play a part.

I was particularly struck by Rex McCann’s comment that he avoids using the phrase “Men’s Movement” because it gives the false impression that there is some kind of unity between the many men’s groups around the country. It’s true that we haven’t yet developed any formal national structure that unifies the various local groups, nor have we properly identified a platform on which such a structure might be built.

I think, however, that there are some basic principles that the vast majority of New Zealand men (and, necessarily women) will subscribe to, such as equal treatment of men and women before the law, shared parenting as a default when relationships split, and social policies that are informed by evidence-based research rather than advocacy by whatever minority group happens to be flavour of the decade. If we could identify a few bottom-line issues that middle New-Zealand will rally around, in the way that feminists unified around abortion, we might grow to a force that could rightfully be considered a movement.

From my personal perspective, one of the greatest handicaps we face is the tendency of men to head off on their own sidetrack, to gather their own small group of supporters, and begin staking out and defending their own patch of “territory”. Every time someone claiming to represent NZ Men takes a position that is not supported by the majority of us (eg: opposition to gay parenting), a polarization takes place which burns off huge amounts of potential support for the issues we do agree on.

As one commentator pointed out yesterday, another glaring weakness that was obvious at the summit is that we need to find ways to include men other than “heterosexual white guys over 40”. I agree with John Tamihere that it is “about building nationhood” – if we do want to develop a structure that genuinely represents the men in our society, it will have to focus resolutely on issues which are in all men’s interests, and by extension the interests of all New Zealanders.

John Tamihere
John Tamihere
Stuart Birks
Stuart Birks
Paul Callister
Paul Callister
Stephen Jelicich
Stephen Jelicich
 Kim Workman
Kim Workman
Paul Callister, Philip Chapman
Paul Callister, Philip Chapman
 Mens Summit Panel
Mens Summit Panel


  1. Hello folks,

    Well, as I suspected. No concrete proposals.
    Not one that I could see in the reports from John Potter so far about this gathering.
    I live and hope.

    Kind, sensitive words.
    But no timelines.
    No clear concise specific goals.
    Dissapointment indeed.

    Nothing the likes of other summit’s concluding statements which the press could get it’s teeth into. And smack bang before the weekends newspapers and TV were due.
    Oh my God!
    A PR disaster.

    By contrast we could have been seeing –

    “Tamihere and Men’s Rights summit prosposes slashing male prison rates by 40% by 2010”

    “Summit demands Family Court be immediately opened to full public accountability”

    “JT and Men’s advocates call for DVA amendments to include strict punishment for those found misusing the act”

    “Summit calls for immediate parity in funding for men’s cancers and men’s cancer research”

    “John and the guys advocate 2005 healthcare policy review to increase male longevity 5 years by 2025″

    ” Men’s Summit demands Royal Commission into the status of men in NZ by years end”

    “Summit advocates introducing means testing for child support by 2006”

    “Summit calls for immediate Commission of inquiry into fatherlessness in New Zealand”

    You see what I’m saying here?
    Short, punchy, to the point.
    Made for public digestion.

    “Spiritual crisis”. Sure. No argument there.
    But I can just imagine that going right over Joe Public’s head. Especially with many folk’s supermarket approach to religious pluralism or outright secularism these days.

    “It’s not about party politics, but about nation building”.
    Sounds like wonderfull blood stirring stuff.
    Full of the call to prideful nationhood.
    Hot on the heels of Anzac day.
    One people under the Southern Cross, rah, rah, rah – Then the clunking realisation.
    It’s delivered by a party man who’s emotionally wed to what he himself describes as the party who’s principal players are “anti – men”.
    Spot the glaring contradiction there?
    Building nationhood by cuddling up to Socialist feminists?
    Yeah righto bro. Whatever.

    Leaving you for now on an anecdotal note.
    My school here in Korea has a new teacher.
    A young bloke from NZ with several years experience teaching in state schools over there. We went out for a drink last night.
    Our conversation turned to the lot of Kiwi men. He told me he couldn’t stomach living in a place so emasculated. I was stunned by the veracity of what this young man was saying as an overwhelming flood of painful memories of the demeaning death by a thousand cuts I’ve experienced as a man in NZ swept through me.
    He had encapsulated in a few short words what I’ve been feeling for a long time. And the reason why so many good men are leaving for other places.

    Stephen Gee.

    I feel sad and upset as I find it hard to reconcile that such a group of guys who I admire for thier many strengths still cannot after years of talking around these issues state what seems obvious needs to be achieved for men IN POLICY terms and more precisely by when it needs to be achieved to arrive at resolution to NZ men’s crisis.

    Comment by Stephen Gee — Sat 7th May 2005 @ 10:07 pm

  2. The Care of Children Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives illegally. It supports children born to single or lesbian women without a guaranteed developmental influence of the child’s biological father.

    If we want an example of discrimination there is no need to look any further. It is the instrument by which to deconstruct an industry and agenda developing to destabalise the element of masculine influence that extreme feminists do not like.

    The legislation on its introduction provides a flaw that can easily be exploited before July when the bill allegedly becomes law. Male unity or nationhood – or whatever the term it is chosen to reflect a sense that there is some hope has an instrument to interfere with this alien to male influence and agenda.

    We are having this summit because we are becoming strong. If we are successful we must be stronger either subjectively or objectively than teh law itself. The failed introduction of teh Care of Children bill achieves successfully the objective element. The subjective element is up to those who subjectively complain. I suggest three things.

    1: Register with the Republicans to give us some starting ground for a collective public body.

    2: Subscribe to my regular letter Beatstreat by e-mailing [email protected] Beatstreet will detail the principles necessary for complaint related to the COC and the ignorance of its detail by the bureaucracy.

    3: Give John Tamihere your absolute support for his words and actions in consideration of the men’s issues but without reservation, refuse him refuse him your vote unless the Family Court is disassembled to be replaced by full mediation processes.
    – Ben Easton.

    Comment by Benjamin Easton — Sun 8th May 2005 @ 12:43 pm

  3. Stephen,

    You say it all: “emasculated”. Just what the Anti-Clark and her worshippers want: a bunch of male serfs who can donate their sperm when required.

    JT made some very interesting comments at a time when the Labour party were suffering under a completely different crisis. Sincere or simply taking the heat off the Anti-Clark?

    I fully concur about the lack of concrete outcomes, but am not surprised by this.

    Were the summit to have actually produced some meaningful outcomes, it would have been immediately attacked by the Anti-Clark and her funny-girl brigade as being “sexist and discriminatory”.


    Show the Anti-Clark and her worshippers you mean business. Stand up and say what you want to happen! The Bill of Rights protects your right to freedom of expression (which the Anti-Clark’s “anti hate speech” legislation scheduled for this year will take away) and the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on gender.

    So leave the Anti-Clark, the funny-girls and the funny-boys out of the picture. Just state what you want for Men in New Zealand.

    “Disestablish the Family Court”

    “Throw out Child Tax (aka the Child Support Act) now”

    “Give Men equality with women in issues of health”

    “Either get rid of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs or immediately establish a Ministry of Men’s Affairs”

    “Abolish the Families Commission: replace it with the Family Commission and task them with making New Zealand a desirable place to raise a family”

    “Stop the active persecution of Men in New Zealand by the fascist, neo-communist feminist brigade (aka the Labour Party)”

    A friend made this comment to me recently: “Men were born with balls for a reason”

    Comment by Sparx — Tue 10th May 2005 @ 9:18 am

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