Let’s put the pure back in New Zealand

by Tracy Brighten  August 2013

A Massey University Speech Writing assignment. Please skip to ‘Speech’ if you don’t need the background.

Background

Margaret Thatcher is invited to speak at the imagined 2013 Massey Student Conference on Sustainability where students and staff present papers to discuss new ideas, research and critical issues on sustainability. Her topic is the discrepancy between the clean, green image created by the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign and the environmental reality. The purpose is to inform the audience of this discrepancy; to persuade them that it is economically damaging as well as morally and aesthetically unacceptable; and to motivate them to take action. The audience will be university lecturers, students and parents with a mix in age, gender and nationality. Mrs Thatcher would like the audience to feel affirmation, enlightenment, surprise, or shock even at her examples of environmental neglect. She wishes to tap into their pride in their country, respect for nature and self-respect as conscientious individuals and motivate them to find out how they can help. As a scientist and politician she will suggest the importance of commerce, government and environmental groups working together to give substance to the ‘100% Pure’ mantra.

In ‘The Lady’s not for turning’ speech,[i] Mrs Thatcher uses appropriate and subtle humour: “The peer that reaches those foreign parts that other peers cannot reach”, a play on the Heineken slogan. She regularly uses triads, “I do care about the future of free enterprise, the jobs and exports it provides and the independence it brings to our people” and alliteration, “dithered for decades”, to enhance rhythm. To make the message indelible and persuasive she uses anaphora, “You can…”; antithesis, “they must look into the hearts and minds of the people whom they seek to govern. I would add that those who seek to govern must in turn be willing to allow their hearts and minds to lie open to the people”; rhetorical questions, “what can stop us from achieving this?”, as well as metaphor, “economic religion which demands this unemployment as part of its ritual?” In her speech to the United Nations she uses statistics, more frequently used by men, to give scientific evidence.[ii] I would like to write a speech that reflects her style.

Mrs Thatcher speaks with a slow pace and clear diction that helps comprehension. The danger is that the slow pace, although authoritative, can be soporific. For example in her speech to the United Nations in 1989 there is no audience response, although the speech is more concerned with informing and persuading than calling to action. The silence may be audience etiquette. Her speeches at Conservative party conferences and in parliament are more lively with changes in tone, pace, emphasis and emotion. Cast as the “Iron Lady”, she isn’t restricted to feminine language, but can mix masculine and feminine words, sounds and imagery, as well as sentiments of toughness with those of empathy. She does not appear to use contractions and her rate of speech in the two speeches analysed is 120 to 140 words per minute.

Speech

Good morning lecturers, students and parents. It’s with great pleasure that I’ve taken time from my schedule of bungee jumping and white water rafting to speak to you at this Student Conference on Sustainability. Many of you here today weren’t even born when I was Prime Minister of Great Britain, but I’m rather hoping that you will have heard of me. You may not have heard that I was a scientist before I was ever a politician and the environment is close to my heart. When I addressed the United Nations in 1989, I warned that climate change was a global issue that all nations must confront. Today, with sustainability on the lips of economists and environmentalists alike, I will discuss the discrepancy between the airbrushed ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign and the environmental reality.

In 1999, the New Zealand Tourist Board launched ‘100% Pure New Zealand’, since hailed as a highly successful global marketing campaign. Responding to the question “Who in the world cares about New Zealand?”, the Tourist Board promotes a desirable experience that reflects the country’s purity.[iii] But is this simply empty rhetoric?

For those living in New Zealand, the campaign images of pristine scenery and prolific wildlife don’t stack up against images far from pure: freshwater fish floating in polluted rivers; Northland Kiwis slain by dogs on the loose[iv]; forty Yellow eyed penguins found dead[v]; Hectors dolphins suffocated by set nets[vi]; albatross chicks starved to death, their stomachs clogged with plastics washed up on beaches[vii]; the golf complex threatening the last nesting site of the NZ Fairy Tern, perched on the brink of extinction[viii]; the monorail that would cut through world heritage wilderness carrying yet more tourists to Milford Sound[ix] and China condemning Fonterra’s contamination crisis. The world is waking up to reality – species decline, habitat loss and food scares are out of kilter with the ‘Pure’ campaign. The question we should be asking is “Who in New Zealand cares about New Zealand?”

Environmental experts say New Zealand can’t continue to fool the world when biodiversity, beaches and rivers are in declining state.[x] Indeed, river quality is significantly degraded by dairy farm effluent and fertiliser runoff with no controls in place.[xi] As science links antibiotic resistance in humans to antibiotic use in farm animals, there’s a global need to clamp down on overuse in agriculture, as well as medicine.[xii] Turning a blind eye could see an apocalyptic scenario where surgical patients die from minor infections[xiii] as resistance grows faster than we create new antibiotics. With intensive farming methods the norm, how clean and green are dairy, poultry and pig farms? Yet we know good hygiene, husbandry and housing eliminate the need for routine use of antibiotics in animal feed. In a global marketplace we face a new challenge that rivals climate change, yet commercial interests continue to control policy.

I disagree with The Right Honourable Mr Key that the ‘100% Pure’ campaign should be taken with a pinch of salt. This smacks of ‘fast food’ mentality, style over substance. But with annual dairy exports to China at $3 billion dollars and eco-tourism vital to the New Zealand economy – I’m told a breeding pair of yellow-eyed penguins could be worth $60,000 to Dunedin[xiv] – the campaign must be taken with a large dose of responsibility. How much of the wealth generated by this campaign is re-invested in conservation? And how much consideration is given to environmental concerns when they conflict with economic interests? A healthy environment benefits a nation’s economy, but let’s not forget that a nation’s economy must support that healthy environment.

It’s time not just to showcase New Zealand, but time to show New Zealand’s purity inside out. Time to show it’s not just pure marketing genius, but the pure in unspoilt and in truth. Change is needed in national attitude, change to shake off the shackles of ignorance, of complacency. You have this marvellous, marvellous country and the opportunity to do things your way. With your contained geographical location and your manageable population, you can be an example to other countries – and what an example you could be. Massey community – with your intellect and your conviction you are ideally placed to lead that change. As well as leaders in business, let’s be guardians of our landscape, custodians of our wildlife. Let’s protect the planet for generations. Let’s put the pure back in New Zealand.

Speech word count excluding references: 733

Analysis

Listening to Ravel’s Bolero[xv] for inspiration, the continuous tempo of the snare drum holds attention. This rhythm is overlaid with serene wind and string melodies, in my mind reflecting pristine landscapes and endangered species, contrasting with sombre, sinister brass melodies, reflecting environmental crises. The piece starts softly building to a loud finale involving most instruments. I hope to build audience awareness and response with each melodic change representing a new paragraph and as more instruments are added, so more weight is added to the argument. I would like the conclusion to reflect the uplifting and stirring finale.

The speech is organised in a logical topical order with an introduction that opens with light humour to break the ice, influenced by Stephen Fry’s BAFTA award opening. A brief reference to Mrs Thatcher’s background establishes credibility and respect and the topic, or thesis, is made clear. The first body paragraph defines the campaign’s origin and questions its truth. The second provides images that contradict this pure image and then turns the NZTB around to ask rhetorically if New Zealanders care about their environment. The third body paragraph informs of experts who do care then opens up to a global view, highlighting the relationship between commerce and government and linking to the fourth that considers John Key’s topical comment about the campaign, intending to persuade of the reciprocity of economy and environment. The conclusion aims to create urgency and to motivate by stirring emotions of pride and responsibility.

I have written with Mrs Thatcher’s voice and position as economist and environmentalist in mind. I have used alliteration to help the rhythm, and anaphora to re-inforce the message and ideas, particularly in the final paragraph with “time to”, “change” and the triad, “Let us”. I used anadiplosis, “A healthy environment benefits a nation’s economy…” to emulate Mrs Thatcher’s “Without a healthy economy”.[xvi] I used parallelism, “should be taken with a pinch of salt….must be taken with a very large dose of responsibility” to convey the seriousness of the topic.   I have tried to use imagery to maximise emotional impact with “airbrushed” questioning the slogan’s truth and “perched on the brink of extinction”, conveying not only that the nesting site is at risk but the species itself. I like the powerful effect of ABBA reversal and could perhaps have worked it into the conclusion, but decided on a power phrase that I hope will be memorable.

The last line of the speech is the power phrase, inviting and inspiring the audience to take action, and playing on Mrs Thatcher putting the ‘Great’ back in Great Britain.[xvii] I am relying on audience open-mindedness about Margaret Thatcher discussing New Zealand affairs. As most will not have lived through some of her more controversial economic and foreign policies, I hope they will value her opinion and identify with a leader who is strongly patriotic and who cares about the environment. I am aware that the speech is a little longer than the 700 words that Mrs Thatcher might deliver in five minutes based on two speeches that I have timed, but I was inspired by her speeches as well as this topical subject.

Notes

[i] Thatcher, Margaret. (1980, October). Speech to Conservative Party Conference (‘the lady’s not for turning’).  Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104431

[ii] Thatcher, Margaret. (1989, November). Speech to United Nations General Assembly (Global Environment). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

[iii] Tourism New Zealand. (2009). Pure As. Celebrating 10 years of 100% Pure New Zealand. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.tourismnewzealand.com/media/106877/10%20year%20anniversary%20of%20100%20%20pure%20new%20zealand%20campaign%20-%20pure%20as%20magazine.pdf

[iv] Donnell, Haydn. (2012, February). Dogs blamed for mass kiwi deaths. August 30, 2013, from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10785657

[v] Daly, Michael. (2013, February). Unknown cause for mass penguin deaths. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/8292911/Unknown-cause-for-mass-penguin-deaths

[vi] Forest and Bird. (n.d.). Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/saveourdolphins

[vii] Schiller, Jakob. (2012, August). Plastic-Filled Albatrosses Are Pollution Canaries in New Doc. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/08/albatross-midway-chris-jordan/

[viii] Te Arai Beach Preservation Society. (n.d.). What is this all about? Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.tearai.org/proposed.htm

[ix] University of Canterbury. (2013, July). Monorail proposal conflicts with NZ tourism brand. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1307/S00540/monorail-proposal-conflicts-with-nz-tourism-brand.htm

[x] APNZ. (2013, August). Advertising watchdog defends 100% pure catchphrase. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11115218

[xi] Field, Michael. (2013, August). New Zealand’s 100% Pure campaign rubbished by UK press. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/9023731/NZs-100-Pure-claim-rubbished-by-UK-press

[xii] World Poultry. (2013, June). Antibiotic use to take priority at G8 summit. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.worldpoultry.net/Broilers/Health/2013/6/Antibiotic-use-to-take-priority-at-G8-summit-1282634W/

[xiii] Mc Carthy, Michael. (2013, March). Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies: resistance to Antibiotics risks health ‘catastrophe’ to rank with terrorism and climate change. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/chief-medical-officer-dame-sally-davies-resistance-to-antibiotics-risks-health-catastrophe-to-rank-with-terrorism-and-climate-change-8528442.html

[xiv] Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust. (n.d.). Value to the economy. Retrieved August 30, 2013, from http://www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz/penguins/value-to-the-economy

[xv] Ravel, Maurice. (1928, November). Bolero. Conducted by Andre Rieu July, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-4J5j74VPw

[xvi] Thatcher, Margaret. (1980, October). Speech to Conservative Party Conference (‘the lady’s not for turning’). Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=104431

[xvii] Kelly, Jack. (2013, April). Thatcher Put the “Great” Back in Great Britain. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/04/14/thatcher_put_the_great_back_in_great_britain_117941.html

Speech Writing

Thank you to Dr Heather Kavan for a most enjoyable and inspiring speech writing paper that taught me new skills and gave me a new writing pleasure.

Save Our Native Birds

Penguin feeding baby
Hoiho Feeding Time by David Brighten

by Tracy Brighten  September 2013
Prize winner at the Massey University Speech Awards 2014  

Maria Montessori’s method of early childhood education had a defining and lasting effect on my family, especially the emphasis on a child’s care and respect for others and the environment.

I’m anxious then that our children are growing up in a society where economic concerns outweigh ecological concerns, where status outweighs values and where self outweighs others. Philosopher Peter Singer condemns this human centeredness – he believes all animals are equal and deserve equal respect.

People often place value on animals based on their value to people, but this ignores value in animals existing for their own sake. People value pets but in our constructed animal hierarchy, wildlife is demoted. And if you take birds, they’re way down the pecking order, but surely birds deserve our care and protection?

Sir David Attenborough thinks so; “What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”[i]

The bar-tailed godwit is a world record holder and New Zealand is part of its incredible story. In March 2007 these modest looking birds hit the headlines when satellite tagging revealed they flew non-stop for over 10,000 km from New Zealand to Northern China then on to breeding grounds in Alaska.[ii] In September they returned to New Zealand in a direct flight of 11,680 km – the longest journey without a feeding stop made by any animal. During summer you can glimpse these superheroes feeding in the mud flats at Foxton Beach.

If the Minister of Internal Affairs in 1941 hadn’t issued a hunting ban to end mass slaughter, believing this remarkable bird worthy of protection, it may have been a different story. Opponents argued that protection should only be imposed when there is economic importance, scientific value or danger of extermination. The problem with waiting until birds are in danger is that we risk being too late. 

Take a look at the bird immortalised on your five dollar note. The yellow-eyed penguin with its distinctive yellow crown is unique to New Zealand, but sadly one of the rarest penguins in the world. Early settlers brought predators and their fires destroyed coastal forest and scrub. Penguins were forced to nest further inland and adults, eggs and chicks became easier prey for dogs, cats, and stoats.[iii]

If you’re familiar with the Otago Peninsula, you might know the hide at the far end of Sandfly Bay. If you’ve been there at dawn you will have seen these majestic penguins slowly zigzagging down steep rocky slopes to the sea and you will know how unique and special they are. If you’ve been to ‘Penguin Place’ and run through tunnels linking hides as you follow a solitary penguin from the beach through dunes to meet its chick, you will know. And you don’t have to see to know. I’m sure I’ll never see an Emperor penguin in the Antarctic, but just knowing they are there is reason enough to care.

The New Zealand dotterel is another native threatened by habitat loss, predation and breeding disturbance. You may have noticed this wary red breasted bird with bandy legs keeping her eye on you as she hurries across the sand. She may even feign a broken wing to draw you away from her nest. With housing and tourist development, her beach habitat is busier. Her eggs are well-camouflaged in a scrape in the sand just above the high tide mark but easily crushed by people, horses or cars.[iv]

Dogs running off the lead can also crush her eggs, or disturb her as she incubates, or even kill her chicks. Cats take her eggs in daytime and night hunters could pluck her from her nest. Her unfledged chicks are easy prey – one cat can wipe out all the nests near its home in a single night.

If you live near dotterel habitat, keep cats inside, and dog walkers please check restrictions, especially in the breeding season. An egg laid on Motuihe Island has twice the chance of surviving to fledgling compared to mainland areas where predators roam, so it’s worth our effort.[v]

The kiwi is our national icon, yet we could see its extinction on the mainland within 50 years. Dogs are the main killer of adult kiwi in Northland where the average lifespan is 14 years compared to 45-60 years elsewhere.[vi] Around Whangarei, more than 320 kiwi have died from dog attacks in the last 12 years.[vii] That’s 320 we might have saved.

Conservationists work tirelessly on breeding, pest control and research, yet their work can be undone in just one night of rampage. Dogs – whether hunting dogs, farm dogs, or pets – are responsible for 80% of adult kiwi deaths each year. It’s true the population can handle some chick losses, but the death of a breeding adult is far more serious. Because the kiwi doesn’t have a breastbone, even a curious dog not intending harm can cause death.

BNZ, who sponsor ‘Save the Kiwi’ campaign, believe with better awareness the decline can be reversed.[viii] If owners keep dogs inside or in an escape-proof garden, especially at night when kiwi leave their burrows, and if roaming dogs are reported to DOC, kiwi deaths can be prevented. Dogs kill in seconds, but aversion training discourages them from approaching kiwi and is very effective.[ix] Why wouldn’t we take these easy measures to help?

Kiwi chicks are killed by cats roaming in kiwi territory during the breeding season. Owners can’t control where their cat goes at night, and you might be surprised to learn that domestic cats wearing radio transmitters were found to roam up to 20 km from home.[x] Partners in crime, stoats and cats kill a staggering 70% of kiwi chicks before they reach 6 months of age.

It’s a tragedy. Our daughter, a zoologist and passionate birder tells me how gentle and endearing this flightless bird is. She describes the thrill of being in the bush in moonlight, hearing a kiwi call, then seeing this rare bird creep past, foraging as it goes.

Cats don’t just kill kiwi. The average cat kills 13 birds a year. [xi]A WSPA pet survey reveals New Zealand has 1.4 million cats, so the death toll is huge.[xii] Why does this matter? After all you might argue, birds aren’t important, and anyway, cats catch rats don’t they? That may be true, but there are other methods of controlling rats that don’t harm birds, including traps and new poisons, so we don’t need cats to catch rats.

Native birds could disappear forever, but if we’re truly clean and green we must conserve bird life diversity. I’m not suggesting public commentator Gareth Morgan’s cat free society. Pets are part of our culture. But we have a duty and a moral obligation to be responsible pet owners and look beyond the interests of our own household.

Cats are predators. It may be distasteful, but Tiddles is equally at home tearing apart a fledgling dotterel as he is snuggling up on the sofa. Like teenagers, if you let them out all night while you sleep you can’t be sure what they’re up to.

So what can we do to help? The story of Sylvia Durrant, long-time volunteer for SPCA Birdwing now in her eighties, is an inspiring one.[xiii]

Many years ago Sylvia was a nurse and knew little about birds, but she volunteered in her spare time. Her home and back yard have become a hospital filled with cages and feathered patients. Fondly known as the ‘bird lady’, Sylvia visits schools to talk about caring for sick and injured birds and she is a passionate advocate. She knows first-hand the damage cats can inflict and she teaches responsible ownership.

If you have a cat, Sylvia asks you to keep it inside at night and that it wears a collar and bell in daytime. You might think a bell won’t work but bells are effective and reduce bird catch rates by 50%.[xiv] You might say your cat doesn’t hunt, but cats bring home less than one third of their total kill.

Feral cat populations quickly spiral out of control so de-sex your cat to prevent kittens that may become wild. Gareth Morgan condemns the SPCA policy of releasing neutered feral cats on the basis of their right to life.[xv] What about birds’ rights he asks? He has a point. Like the Minister of Internal Affairs, you can save birds by preventing these killing sprees.

Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf is known as ‘The Singing Island’, but there was a time when forest birds were forced to leave and silence fell.[xvi] Early settlers cleared forest for houses, crops and animal grazing. By the time they left, the forest had been decimated.

Thankfully Ray, a lighthouse keeper turned ranger, led the restoration in the 80s and this forested paradise is home to a chorus of species, including the rare takahe, saddleback and stitchbird. Pests have been eradicated and bush boardwalks let visitors see what’s possible with vision, dedication and patience. But there’s work to be done on the mainland.

Every year in October, celebrities campaign for Forest & Bird ‘Bird of the Year’ and the public can vote for their favourite native.[xvii] Past eminent stars include the New Zealand falcon, the kiwi and the kakapo, and you may recall Stephen Fry’s humping encounter with Sirroco that raised him to ambassador status for this critically endangered parrot.

Birders aren’t a weird species huddled in hides, but people who care. Cast your vote and tweet your friends – “birds are cool”. We can join wildlife conservation groups – ‘Kiwis for Kiwi’ website is full of information for volunteers, pet owners, hunters and more.[xviii] We can show our children how to tread softly in nature, how to watch, listen and care. DOC’s website has video clips to inform and inspire tomorrow’s conservationists. [xix] We can set up a feeding table, especially in winter, and a bird bath is a lifeline in summer. We can extend our love for pets to the wildlife in our back yards, on our farmland, in our countryside.

Birds are beautiful. Grab your coat, grab your binoculars, grab your children and get out into the bush. Take your time. Stop, look, and listen. Hear the woosh of the kereru in the tree tops or the tui’s melancholic notes. See the fantail flitting back and forth or the blackbird foraging on the floor. Even in the largest cities you’re never far from nature in New Zealand. Open your eyes to our country’s amazing birds and let their songs into your heart.

[i] Attenborough, David. (n.d.). Retrieved October 08, 2013, from http://www.brainyquote.com/

[ii] Woodley, Keith. (2009). Godwits – Long haul champions. Auckland: The Penguin Group.

[iii] Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2013, from http://www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz/penguins/threats-disease-and-predators

[iv] Department of Conservation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2013, from http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/nz-dotterel-tuturiwhatu/

[v] Neate, & Hester R. (2011). Breeding success of northern New Zealand dotterels (Charadrius obscurus aquilonius) following mammal eradication on Motuihe Island, New Zealand. Notornis. 58(1), pp. 17-21.

[vi] Department of Conservation. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2013, from http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/conservation/native-animals/birds/saving-northlands-kiwi-from-dogs-factsheet.pdf

[vii] Stuff. (2012, February). Kiwi deaths spur reminder to dog owners. Retrieved September 30, 2013, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6424474/Kiwi-deaths-spur-reminder-to-dog-owners

[viii] BNZ Save the Kiwi. (2011, August). Owner of Kiwi killing dog ‘sickened’ by bird’s death. Retrieved September 30, 2013, http://www.kiwirecovery.org.nz/news/news/owner-of-kiwi-killing-dog-sickened-by-birds-death.html

[ix] Shivers, Timothy (2013, September, 30). Time to save the Kiwi. New Zealand Herald: Element magazine, pp. 23.

[x] Metsers, E.M. (2010). Cat-exclusion zones in rural and urban-fringe landscapes: how large would they have to be? Wildlife Research, 37, pp. 47–56.

[xi] Van Heezik, Y. (2010). Do domestic cats impose an unsustainable harvest on urban bird populations? Biological Conservation. 143, pp. 121–130.

[xii] WSPA (2011, August) New Zealand Survey Reveals A Nation Of Animal Lovers And Pet Owners. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from http://www.wspa.org.nz/latestnews/2011/NZ_survey_a_nation_of_animal_lovers.aspx

[xiii] Durrant, Sylvia (2009). Personal communication.

[xiv] Gordon, J.K. (2010). Belled collars reduce catch of domestic cats in New Zealand by half. Wildlife Research, 37, pp. 372.

[xv] Morgan, Gareth. (n.d.). The SPCA are releasing cats into the Wild. Retrieved September 29, 2013, http://garethsworld.com/catstogo/

[xvi] Moon, Lynette (1998). The Singing Island. Auckland: Random House.

[xvii] Stewart, Matt. (2013, October, 5). Battle of the Birds. Dominion Post. pp. A20.

[xviii] Kiwis for Kiwi. (n.d). Retrieved October 1, 2013, from http://www.kiwisforkiwi.org/

[xix] Department of Conservation. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://tvnz.co.nz/meet-the-locals/s2009-e6-dotterels-video-2802910