Reading the fine print, except it’s not actually fine at all.
by Lyndon Hood
Last week I got one of the new five dollar notes as change and I was quite struck by the quality of the design – though after a couple of hours in a dark room I had recovered almost completely. To ease myself back into the modern visual world – we are having a flag debate after all, it pays to stay aesthetically limber – I decided to revisit a less chromatically enthusiastic official document. I refer to the New Zealand passport.
On close inspection, I found something quite startling. The last update to the passport includes, after where the Governor-General charges foreign officials to give the holder all lawful protection, quite a lot of very small print.
I had to squint quite a bit, but I made it out as follows:
.. because if they get in trouble and it’s left up to us, the bearer is definitely on their own. In fact, if they end up having their human rights abused by a close ally or probably even by potential trading partner (i.e. anybody) Her Majesty’s Government promises to actively throw them under a bus.
So if a nation we’re great mates with decides to start treating New Zealand citizens with the same contempt they famously treat all the other immigrants – extended and unduly harsh detention for anyone who tries to contest their arbitrary decisions, say – the New Zealand Crown will definitely be the last to publicly condemn this, and the first to malign the victims. Also while apparently making it harder for them to exercise their right to return to their country of citizenship. And also apparently get in the way of them exercising their right to return to their country of citizenship (you might have thought that right was half the point of citizenship; sucks to be you) unless they come back in manacles. And until we’re ready to monitor them and restrict their movements or take DNA samples or something when they get here.
Or, say, the bearer is blown to pieces by a drone strike. And say they weren’t specifically the target, and the strike may or may not have come after signals intelligence we provided. Our Government will let nothing stop them assuming that this extrajudicial-state-assassination/’act-of-war’-in-a-country-the-drone-country-is-not-at-war-with is, in itself, fair proof that the bearer probably deserved it. I guess you can’t rain down invisible death from above unless you have the moral high ground or something, I don’t know.
Given all that, we can’t confirm our reaction if the holder were to be condemned to death by beheading – say for blasphemy (e.g atheism) or homosexuality. For all we know, if it’s some extremist-funding state which we happen to want a trade deal with, our ministers may accidentally hand out a free sheep farm, instead of a diplomatic rebuke.
TL;DR: We’re not actually sure this document is worth the high-tech biometric-chip-containg paper that it’s printed on. Have a nice trip.
This was followed by (as far as I can tell) the same thing again, rendered in Te Reo Maori.
It’s amazing what they can do with engraving these days.