Hero Haden!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2007-09-10 22:06

Libertarian fined for fiery census protest
The Dominion Post
Tuesday, 11 September 2007

A political principle has proved costly for a Wellington man who burnt his census questionnaire, even though he has now filled in a form.

Nik Haden, a member of the Libertarianz party which supports individual rights and freedoms, was fined $750, with another $690 costs, on three charges in Wellington District Court yesterday.

The charges of destroying the form and failing to complete the dwelling and individual forms in March last year were found proved after a defended hearing.

Judge Carolyn Henwood had told Haden previously that it was important that he fill in the forms because it was a "continuing offence", and Haden's position became worse each day they were not completed.

Haden had been wanting a discharge without conviction because of the impact a conviction might have on his job and travel prospects.
He said that Libertarianz advocated minimising government's role in the lives of individuals, and he had wanted to register a protest against the law, rather than defy it.

For Statistics New Zealand, lawyer Karen Grau, said the proper forum in which to make his point was Parliament.

Judge Henwood refused to discharge him without conviction.

She said Haden had not satisfied her that the consequences of a conviction were out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence.

After the hearing Haden said he had no complaints with the outcome because he had raised the issue publicly and made his point.

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The law

HWH's picture

Hi Mattie

Don't know the how the Kiwi legal system evolved, but found this piece by Ingersoll to be very enlightening about the law and the differences between English and American systems.

Firstly in regards to the "Dred Scot" decision

"There was a time in this country when all bowed to a decision of the Supreme Court. It was unquestioned. It was regarded as "a voice from on high." The people heard and they obeyed. The Dred Scott decision destroyed that illusion forever. From that day to this the people have claimed the privilege of putting the decisions of the Supreme Court in the crucible of reason. These decisions are no longer exempt from honest criticism. While the decision remains, it is the law. No matter how absurd, no matter how erroneous, no matter how contrary to reason and justice, it remains the law. It must be overturned either by the Court itself (and the Court has overturned hundreds of its own decisions), or by legislative action, or by an amendment to the Constitution. We do not appeal to armed revolution. Our Government is so framed that it provides for what may be called perpetual peaceful revolution. For the redress of any grievance, for the purpose of righting any wrong, there is the perpetual remedy of an appeal to the people.

We must remember, too, that judges keep their backs to the dawn. They find whit has been, what is, but not what ought to be. They are tied and shackled by precedent, fettered by old decisions, and by the desire to be consistent, even in mistakes. They pass upon the acts and words of others, and like other people, they are liable to make mistakes. In the olden time we took what the doctors gave us, we believed what the preachers said; and accepted, without question, the judgments of the highest court. Now it is different. We ask the doctor what the medicine is, and what effect he expects it to produce. We cross-examine the minister, and we criticize the decision of the Chief-justice. We do this, because we have found that some doctors do not kill, that some ministers are quite reasonable, and that some judges know something about law. In this country, the people are the sovereigns. All officers -- including judges -- are simply their servants, and the sovereign has always the right to give his opinion as to the action of his agent, The sovereignty of the people is the rock upon which rests the right of speech and the freedom of the press."

and in "The Laws Delay"

"In England there is no appeal. The trials are shorter, the judges more arbitrary, the juries subservient, and the verdict often depends on the prejudice of the judge. The judge knows that he has the last guess -- that he cannot be reviewed -- and in the passion often engendered by the conflict of trial he acts much like a wild beast."

Apologies for the delay Mattie.




" I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

OK, This is where things start to get a little sticky...

Matty Orchard's picture

Hilton, it's a great quote but then again I never needed any convincing. I completely agree with that take on what purpose the law should be limited to and I completely agree that the mandatory census goes far beyond those limits.

I'm not saying Mr. Haden is wrong, he's right. But so is Mrs. Henwood...in a different way.

The job of a Judge is to go by what the law is not what it should be. Mr. Haden (rightfully) broke the law, Judge Henwood (rightfully) convicted him for so obviously breaking the law and Mr. Haden (very rightfully) accepted the conviction as the inevitable consequence of doing the right thing. This is all very very stupid. Ideally Mr. Haden would have torn up his census and Judge Henwood wouldn't have gotten involved because it wasn't illegal. It's our job to try and accomplish such a situation by pushing our idea of what the law should be so we can live in a world of real justice but for now Mrs. Henwood is just doing her job and I think it's unfair to attack her for that.

If Judges made their rulings on what the law, in their opinions, should be freedom would be pointless. It would take just one person to decide you had that rape coming or you shouldn’t have worn that stripped shirt if you didn’t want to be assaulted. Henwood made the right ruling on a law that shouldn’t exist. Let’s focus our attention on the law, not the woman who has the unfortunate duty of upholding it.


HWH's picture

Hi Mattie

I appreciate your statement about judges not being advocates...but if you havent yet you should read Bastiats (1801-1850) expose of the law here

One of the quotes read

" The Proper Function of the Law

And, in all sincerity, can anything more than the absence of plunder be required of the law? Can the law — which necessarily requires the use of force — rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution — so long searched for in the area of social relationships — is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.

Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?"




I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Justice Henwood ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... is a "she" if I'm not mistaken. Married to some leftie artie-fartie. She'd be a statist to her fingertips, I'll be bound.

I myself once got fined about $400 for refusing to fill in the form. I sent a statement to the court but did not appear. Bill Weddell, who by that stage had given up his five-yearly ritual, paid the fine for me. Smiling


Elijah Lineberry's picture

is quite right about 'Activist Judges'.

One thing you find is that only 'ethnic minorities' get let off lightly in NZ.

If a white, middle class, well educated person (such as Mr Haden presumably is) comes before the Court, the Judge takes the view that he "should have known better" and be given the ticking off and stiff penalty as in this case.


JulianD's picture


I don't let Judge Henwood off the hook as easily as you.

The Guidelines on Process & Content of Legislation published by the Legislation Advisory Committee states the following:



12.6.1 Outline

This Part discusses some of the underlying principles of New Zealand's sentencing regime and contains guidelines on appropriate penalties.

12.6.2 Comment

The general approach of Parliament since the late 19th century has been to fix a maximum penalty for an offence but no minimum penalty. The statutory maximum is designed for the very worst type of case falling within the definition of the offence. The determination of the actual sentence to be imposed, which can range from the statutory maximum on the one hand to discharge without conviction on the other hand, is a matter for the sentencing court. The sentencing court, in a very broad sense, sets an appropriate sentence by assessing the offender's culpability.


There are many examples of judges using their discretion to discharge without conviction. Judge Louis Bidois, Judge Deobhakta, Judge Philip Connell being examples.

Following orders is sometimes no excuse especially when the judge has been given explicit discretion to discharge without conviction.


In regard to Henwood...

Matty Orchard's picture

This may lose me some friends here but coming from a family of lawyers I can't help myself.

As much as I agree with Mr. Haden I can't hold any ill will toward Judge Henwood. The mans job is to uphold the law and it's pretty hard to argue that Nik Haden isn't guilty of breaking the law. It's a Juries duty to throw the law out the window, Judges have the unfortunate obligation to stand by the fucking thing.

I think Nik Haden is more than a champion, he's a flat out hero. He's a hero because he's been willing to take a personal blow (As Julian pointed out he may have trouble with travel now) for the sake of upholding his principles. He's a much braver man than I am. My only hope is that eventually people will realize how unethical the census is, get rid of it and have Haden aquitted.

But for now he broke a law (unjust as it may be) and Judge Henwood was simply doing his job by not giving him a free pass. Judges aren't supposed to be advocates.

The Injustice of Judge Henwood

JulianD's picture

What a magnificant stand by Nik against an immoral law. The fine is not what annoys me, it is the fact that Nik now has a conviction to his name with the consequent implications that has for travel.

I will be happy to contribute financially in some way, hopefully in an appeal.

Bill Weddell would be proud of you Nik. Smiling

For those who don't know, the late Bill Weddell also appeared in court in 1978 for the same reason and part of his defence of I copied below from an earlier Politically Incorrect Show Editorial.

"In failing to comply with a government order to disclose private information concerning my private life and private property, my intention is not to flout the Law as such, but to lodge formal protest against the Statistics Act, and to register my rejection, on moral grounds, of the widespread practice of State expropriation of private property and related information under threat of forcible punishment.

"I hold, as a moral absolute, the conviction that in a civilised society all relationships between men must be voluntary; that compulsion abolishes morality altogether, and must be outlawed; that no man shall gain a value from another by the use or the threat of force; and that it is the only proper function of the Law to protect men against those who do.

"I have declined to plead or to offer any legal defence since the very existence of the Statistics Act abolishes objective justice, the only legal principle that could defend me. The Law as it stands arbitrarily declares the contradiction that guilt defined by Law can co-exist with and overrule provable innocence in objective reality.

"I do not regard my actions as a crime, but as an act of self-defence. Every man possesses the absolute right to own private property and, in acting solely in defence of that right, no offence against, or violation of the rights of others is possible. Yet my actions have been twisted in legal terminology into an 'offence', and my alleged victim is held to be the very Act of Parliament by which the theft of my property has been legalised.

"The Law is of necessity an instrument of physical force; therefore theft perpetrated by an armed government against legally disarmed citizens is an act of civil war. In addition, the Law functions by a process of deriving logical consequences from established precedents. The Statistics Act is an empowering Act enabling the State to take stock of its citizens' wealth and furnishes clear evidence of its intention to escalate from partial confiscation by taxation to outright plunder by total control. In this case I regard blind obedience to a blatantly coercive law to be no excuse for inaction. The sanction of the victim, implied in this case by my silence or inaction, would be the worst of evils."


Chris R's picture

I think the penalty is too severe.

The real difficulty with this so-called offence is that it is so arbitrarily imposed. I have refused to complete the absurd and intrusive forms in 1996, 2001 and 2006. Apart from some huffing and puffing from the collector nothing has happened.

Where can we direct contributions for the fines/costs?

It is steep

Richard Wiig's picture

This just makes me angry. I haven't filled in the last two and nothing's happened to me. The last time I point blank told the enumerator that I wouldn't fill it in, and she said "ok" and that was the end of that.


Elijah Lineberry's picture

a champion!

I thought I had gotten away with not filling out my form last year, until about 5:30pm on Census Day some dreadful enumerator jumped out at me in the lobby of the hotel I was staying at whilst in Wellington on business, thrust a census form at me, and said the Hotel Manager (f**king p***k) told her I was a New Zealander and not a foreign tourist.


I must say, $750 fine and $690 in costs is a bit steep, as costs are usually set around the $130 - $150 mark.

Nik Haden may just be glad the matter is all over...but there could be grounds for appeal on the excessive nature of the fines.

She said Haden had not

Lance's picture

She said Haden had not satisfied her that the consequences of a conviction were out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence. Gah!

After the hearing Haden said he had no complaints with the outcome because he had raised the issue publicly and made his point.
Champion, in my opinion.

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