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Harawira: Voyeurism and Cultural Invasion

Crimes (Intimate Covert Filming) Amendment Bill

Hone Harawira, Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Thursday 23 November 2006

The Intimate Covert Filming Amendment Bill is long overdue.

The Maori Party supports the introduction of this Bill to penalise the making, publishing or distributing of voyeuristic material recorded without consent, with up to three years jail.

We support this Bill because we well remember the racist, imperialistic and pornographic images on postcards at the start of last century; photographs of Maori women with the cloak draped in such a way so that one breast was exposed, or young Maori women lying around naked.

And in case members of the House have a hazy memory of this time, hows about this for a fact - in 1909 alone, 9 million postcards were sent through New Zealand post – at a time when our population was only 1 million.

In fact, the sleazy exotica of the native postcard was heavily exploited; you could buy dusky Maori Maidens on postcards, paintings, and even early cinema, all over the country.

Jacqui Beets, in her paper ‘Images of Maori women in postcards after 1900’, describes how these maidens were posed with ‘lowered eyelids’ and a shy ‘come-hither’ glance to invite “possession or ownership of a native woman and her land”.

Other writers in the Pacific also used the same intimate covert filming techniques to promote cultural tourism and land alienation as one juicy package.

Tongan writer, Konai Thaman, described such voyeuristic filming as, “a major contributor to, as well as a manifestation of, a process of cultural invasion” and that cultural invasion, that promotion of sex and the dusky maiden to sell postcards and to promote colonisation, has finally come before this House.

Beets concludes her study of the ‘alluring Maori maiden’ theme by noting that “New Zealand postcards featuring Maori women thus suggest a policy of exploitation by early twentieth century recorders and image-makers”.

More than 100 years later, this House will finally see legislation to ban the filming and distribution of people in intimate situations without their consent.

Mr Speaker, we also support the recommendation from the Select Committee to include recordings made in any medium and using any device, whether recorded or shown live, because today’s criminals are as devious in their use of technology as last century’s photographers were with the posing of their models.

And to cover every angle, we also support the view that possession of such material for the purpose of publishing, importing, exporting or selling it should also be considered as grounds for a three year jail term as well.

Mr Speaker there was one particular issue that we felt was missed out in the Bill and at select committee, and we raise it here.

The Law Commission proposed a dual response to intimate covert filming: criminalising the conduct and; ensuring a remedy for the victims through the Privacy Act 1993. The Maori Party agrees wholeheartedly with this focus.

In fact, the Commission even recommended amendments to the Act to provide remedies, but this Bill has missed them out completely.

The explanatory notes to the Bill state that: “sentences requiring reparation will also ensure that the victims will receive some compensation for the harm they have endured”, yet oddly enough, such compensation is not provided for at all.

Mr Speaker, this Intimate Covert Filming Bill also carries a penalty of one year's jail for possessing such material without reasonable cause, and also details the destroying of images, and the disposal of equipment.

And with so much attention being paid to the nitty gritty, how come there’s no detail on how to respond to the needs of those who have been victimised?

It seems that this Bill has been put together with the same piece-meal and ad-hoc approach that we have seen with other Bills put before the House this year.

The other question I gotta ask of course is “who is watching the watchdogs”?

I see that if you’re with the Police, Customs, SIS, Corrections, and you need to do some snooping in relation to legal proceedings, this Bill protects you from prosecution as long as you:

- clearly record the reason for snooping;

- do it only during relevant times;

- restrict it to a small area;

- only gather relevant information; and wait for it…..

- not film in toilets or washrooms unless there are extraordinary reasons.

So we support the suggestion for tighter controls on the watchdogs as well.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party supported the Crimes of Torture Bill, to tighten up the running of our jails to prevent the abuse of power, so we sure don’t want to be creating opportunities for an abuse of power in this Bill.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party harks back to those images that once reduced our women to the exotic, innocent natives alluring the white man to our shores, as the basis for our support of this Bill.

The advent of cell-phones, micro-cameras, digital streaming, internet service providers, and other mediums of electronic recording and storage has meant the publishing, import, export and sale of intimate recordings to the voyeurs of the world has blown right out of control.

We are disgusted with the practice; we are disturbed that those who endure the humiliation and shame of such invasion are not adequately compensated for in this Bill; we recommend further work be done to ensure their needs are met; and we urge this House not to wait another 100 years before the victims of covert filming can receive the justice they are due.


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