Home' The Wellingtonian : December 1st 2011 Contents 10 THE WELLINGTONIAN, DECEMBER 1, 2011
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of our city
Political blogger bites back
Rebecca Thomson talks to political blogger David
Farrar about web publishing, Winston Peters and
You grew up in Wellington.
Yes, in Island Bay and I still
love the suburb. Whenever I drive
through there, it brings back
great memories. It s one of the
best suburbs to bring up a family.
It has a great school, good pub-
lic transport and a nice com-
munity feel. I did up to three
paper rounds at one time there
when I was young. I was a capital-
ist from a young age!
Did you always want to get
into media and politics?
I had intentions of doing medi-
cine, so I went to Otago. I ended
up doing better on the social side
of things at Otago than the aca-
demic side. After four years I
came back to Wellington.
And you got a job with the
I saw an ad for a part-time tem-
porary administration job.
I threw it in the bin because it
wasn t fulltime, but then I
thought it was better to have a
part-time job than be on the dole.
It was a wonderful place to
work and I ended up doing a num-
ber of roles. It was a nice lesson in
not turning down a job that
doesn t sound good enough.
What did you enjoy the most
about working there?
When the delegates -- doctors
and nurses, usually -- would come
back from overseas stints, we
would have a 90-minute show-
and-tell session about what they
had done. It was absolutely
incredible. There is so much pov-
erty in the world, you wonder how
one or two people can make a dif-
ference, but then you would hear
the story of, say, a desalination
expert who s come back after
being able to help get clean water
to 90,000 people.
Then you got a job at
ad agency when I got a phone call
from Parliament asking if I could
help with desktop publishing. I
had about nine different jobs in
the eight years I was there.
Now you run a market
research company, Curia.
I was a jack-of-all-trades at Par-
liament, but part of my work was
to do the polling for National.
After a while I thought I had
enough knowledge to start my
own research company.
I love it. I ve got to understand
what people want and like. Pub-
licly people associate me with
blogging, but that s my hobby.
When did you discover
In 2003. I liked that strong
voices could be heard that would
not necessarily appear in tra-
I got addicted to blogging and
started my own [Kiwiblog].
You started the blog while
working at Parliament. How
did that go down?
The left-wing Labour people
thought it was a conspiracy, that
National had set it up.
But there were people in
National who wanted it pulled
down, because I would say when I
didn t agree with them.
Since Kiwiblog, you've done
more political commentary
I ve been picked up for columns,
panels on TV and radio, et cetera.
It was never my intention to go
there, but it s been great fun.
Are you surprised at NZ
First's election results?
No. I picked them to get seven
seats and they got eight. So many
superannuitants love Winston
Peters for the Gold Card, and
every time they use their card
they re reminded of him. And he
got a lot of exposure. The irony is,
he complains about the media, but
he got far more airtime than just
about everyone else.
Are defamation and name
suppression a big problem
Comments do pose a challenge.
I can get 500 comments a day and
I don t have time to read them all.
I rely on people to report things to
me. Anyone who s had a comment
written about them that s defama-
tory or just plain nasty, I will
delete or edit the comment.
Name suppression orders can
be breached, too, and people can
be very clever about how they do
it. There is a growing inability to
keep a name suppressed.
You believe New Zealand
should become a republic.
The head of state should be a
New Zealander, someone who s
going to support the All Blacks.
What are your thoughts
about changing the New Zea-
It s not that our flag is terrible.
It just doesn t represent us, and
worst of all, it s too similar to Aus-
tralia s. The blog I wrote, the day
after the All Blacks World Cup
win, about the flag, was one of my
most popular. I didn t even advo-
cate for change. I just said, Over
the past six weeks New Zealand-
ers have adopted a new flag.
The silver fern on a black back-
ground -- we had it on our cars,
our shirts and our buildings, and
not because it s the All Blacks
emblem, but because it strikes a
chord. That blog got about 400
comments, most in agreement.
You've travelled to Iran.
I went for a holiday. I have a
friend who worked at the embassy
there, so I felt nothing untoward
would happen if I was with him.
I went to Persepolis, which has
amazing ruins. Then I flew to
There will be very few people
who have a baggage tag marked
from Tehran Airport to David Ben
Gurion airport, Tel Aviv.
I like the Middle East. I ve been
to Kuwait, Egypt, Israel and Iran.
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