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March 9, 2009 | by  | in Books | [ssba]

Secrets and Lies

This week, I’m going to diverge from recently published works to recommend a work of non-fiction, which carefully investigates and chronicles the actions of Timberlands, one of the poster-child State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) of the 90s, in its attempts to discredit opposition to its clear-felling practices in the West Coast Native Bush reserves during the late 80s through to late 90s. Hagar and Burton used Official Information Act (OIA) requests to amass a huge volume of source data, from which this solid fact-finding book emerged. If you didn’t know anything about the derivation of environmental groups in Aotearoa/New Zealand, you might find the narrative difficult to follow; and the information is incredibly dense and heavily annotated.

As a study of how PR firms help corporations to spin and manipulate public opinion, I’ve seen none better. The publication of this book came just before the public mass protests about GE, and long before any of the current protests about state coal mining in Happy Valley, near Westport, but parallels can be made between the tactics used by Timberlands, and those subsequently used against protesters by Monsanto, and Solid Energy: one a huge multinational, the other an SOE with an ostensibly greenwashed public face. If you’ve ever struggled to make sense of claims of eco-terrorism happening in our fair land, this book will help you to understand the context in which PR firms have popularised the terminology in defense of their SOE and corporate clients. I found my reading copy in a library. I’m pretty sure the book is out of print, so if you’re interested, I suggest a scroll through the catalogue in your library of choice, or take time out to visit the little anarchist library, Revolting Books, based at 128 Abel Smith Street. I can vouch that they have multiple copies, along with a lot of other material about direct activism in Aotearoa NZ, including other works by Nicky Hagar.

By Nicky Hagar & Bob Burton


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Comments (6)

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  1. Chewy says:

    You don’t reckon you could have read the cover of the book to find out how to spell Hager?

  2. Totally my bad, Chewy. Mortifying.

  3. Jackson Wood says:

    Totally my bad too. Should’ve picked that one up. Hager. It rhymes with lager. Mmmmm beer.

  4. Chewy says:

    I had a dream last night about Kerry Tankard telling me that Nicky Hager’s surname was really spelt Hagar, and he just writes books under the name Hager.

  5. Kerry says:

    Holding the book in my hand, I declare it was one of my usual typo’s, which slipped past my edit-3-times-then-send process. Hager, indeed.
    Sorry, BK, will check better the next installments!

    Excuse me if checking for comments on my reviews hasn’t been a high priority this week… life intervenes, and this time it was good.

  6. Joseph Fritzl says:

    fuck off kerry

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