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What's up with Banksie?

Sunday, 13 July 2014 00:00;
Published in Blog;

The Fall and fall of John Archibald Banks MP.

New Zealand has had its fair share of colourful political characters, amusing us with their shenanigans; from bully boys like 'King' Dick Seddon and Rob Muldoon to the larger than life bon vivant, raconteur David Lange. Two whose parliamentary careers began in the National Party during the last days of Rob Muldoon's reign, are the mercurial Winston Peters and proudly self-made man John Banks; both who in their own right; love them or hate them, have been truly colourful characters in and out of Parliament, up to all sorts of high jinks and gamesmanship. Banks of course, no less attention-grabbing as Mayor of Auckland than more recently as ACT MP for Epsom. His most recent political roller coaster ride however, must have been especially emotionally draining, even for him; accustomed to controversy as he is. Found guilty on the 5th of June 2014 of filing a false electoral return for monies donated by the equally flamboyant Kim Dotcom, John Banks faces the possibility of a custodial sentence, if convicted; although commentators suggest it's more likely to be lessened to a period of home detention, a fine, or even maybe, just maybe, a discharge without conviction. Self-made man he may well be, but it's an ignoble end to a hard-won forty years of public service for a very proud man.


Robert Muldoon in his Tamaki electorate, drink in hand, during election night 1984.

So just what has gone wrong for John Banks? For it should be noted that his current problems are only the culmination of what must be seen as a steady decline in his 'luck' in the last few years, not just in 2013 and 2014. Viewed through the perspective of the Chinese system of destiny analysis known as the Four Pillars of Destiny, some surprising insights are revealed about the recent life and times of Mr John Banks MP. It is this system I will be using here to work out some of what has happened to him.

The Four Pillars of Destiny, is a uniquely Chinese method for understanding one's character, strengths and weaknesses, one's fortunes and periods of progress, rise and decline, and in some cases even periods of good or poor health. Based on the Chinese world view of Heaven above, Earth beneath, Man between; it has at its heart the concepts of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements. In this matrix everything within the universe can be understood in terms of either yin or yang. The manner in which these two opposing forces interact is through a set of agencies of change. In English, these agencies of change are usually translated as the five elements; although this tends to give the notion of something rather more static than the original Chinese term of the Wu Xing or Five Transformations, which refer directly to the dynamism of this interaction. One especially unique aspect of this system is that the passage of time; any given moment in time, can be assessed in terms of the interaction of the five elements. Given a specific year, month, day and hour, we can assess the five elements at play at that precise moment and understand the forces at work in them and therefore the reasons for what has happened at that precise moment. It is these four components of the year, the month, the day and the hour that make up the Four Pillars. However, since these also incorporate both the heavenly or cosmic aspect and their accompanying earthly aspects that they are sometimes also called the Eight Characters or Ba Tzi; for the eight Chinese pictographs that are used to indicate the cosmic and the earthly influences involved in observing time this way.

As we do not know at what hour Mr Banks was born, we have only three of the four pillars to work with. However, they are enough for us to get a basic grasp on the situation he currently faces. Translated into the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches his date of birth can be presented as follows:

  • 2nd December 1946
  • Yang Metal Yin Earth Yang Fire
  • Dog (Earth) Pig (Water) Dog (Earth)

From this information, the first the thing we must decide is what type of person Mr Banks is. What is his dominant element? From his Day Pillar, with the Heavenly Stem of Yang Metal sitting on the Earth of the Dog (or Earthly Branch), we can see that his personal element is metal. However, since he was born in the month of the Pig, a month dominated by water, the product of metal, and the season of winter within the system, (see my upcoming blog article North vs South in Classical Chinese feng shui for an explanation as to why we do not change the seasonality of the system for the Southern hemisphere); we must deem his metal to be weak. Weak metal is refined metal, so it is in fact very tough metal and people born with this as their personal element are usually very determined, resolute types who brook little opposition; with an inner level of strength that sees them deal with adversity that others simply crumple under. Certainly John Banks has enjoyed a reputation for surviving many difficult personal circumstances, especially in his earlier years. So to better understand his overall character, we must look to the upper line of his Four Pillars or the Heavenly Stems. It is said that these reveal what we show to the world. The first of these is the Yang Fire of his year of birth. Yang Fire indicates the sun and so we might expect someone who is perennially optimistic and who likes to present a cheerful face to the world. Yang fire is also loud and can be confronting, and so people with this element in their four pillars are often known for speaking loudly, even shouting. Certainly Mr Banks is renowned for his strident voice, particularly when espousing his peculiarly ultra-positive spin on things.

The Heavenly Stem of his month of birth is Yin Earth and shows a more moderate, amenable public persona. Yin earth is likened to a garden, and it was this more judicious, inclusive side of Mr Banks personality that came into play during his second term as Mayor of Auckland (2007-2010), during which it was generally acknowledged, he was less confrontational and more restrained in his management style. The Heavenly Stem of his day of birth is that of Yang Metal. This is where he gets his real determination and tough, inner will from. However, Yang Metal, unlike the more refined aspects of small metal, has an aggressive, almost clumsy, bullying side to its nature and it is this that we have seen from more often in the discordant, braying facets of his public profile.

Even more of his personality is revealed from the underlying Earthly Branches. These are the sides to one's nature that we tend to keep hidden and that the world in general does not always see of us. That of the year for Mr Banks is the Dog. The Dog is Earth element and indicates a strong, no nonsense personality. However, the Dog is known as the Storage of Fire and so heightens his Yang Fire. Since there are two dogs in his Earthy Branches, they only serve to reinforce his feistiness. This is very likely to negatively affect his health with high blood pressure and its associated results, especially when the calendar introduces more fire, as it has in 2013 and 2014 with the years of the snake and the horse both fire element. It is this fire that attacks Mr Banks' already weak metal and which sees him lose ground. On the other hand, this same fire, which is so aggressive to his weak metal, can be expected to further refine and eventually strengthen this metal of his. Like any metal passing through the fires of a forge, it serves first to soften and melt the metal before it cools and re-hardens. Remember, fire is necessary to harden the best steel. These past two years can be taken therefore, as a sign of conflict and trial for Mr Banks. To extend the analogy of the furnace, we could say it would not be reasonable in the light of the strong fire element present during 2013 and 2014, to expect to see him prospering in the 'bear pit' of national politics. Trying to brazen his way through the forge may well be his natural response to such fiery adversity, but in the face of this kind of fierce tempering, it was inevitable his metal would succumb to the heat, even if just momentarily.


John Archibald Banks - in the dock.
Image ®

The Earthly Branch of his month of birth is the Pig. The Pig is weak water, kind, accommodating and surprisingly, humble; and those who know Mr Banks well, speak of his generosity and kindness. The water of the Pig however, is nowhere strong enough to counter balance the fire of the Snake and the Horse these past two years.

As mentioned above, the animal of the Day Pillar is the Dog. This second dog only further serves to strengthen the fire of the Dog already present in the Year Pillar. One rather peculiar aspect of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac, is its reputation as the Gate of Hell. This comes from the fact the hour of the Dog is between 7 pm and 9 pm. At this time the sun is sinking below the horizon and so our eyes are drawn to the earth with it and the dark. People with a strong dog influence in their Four Pillars are often conservatively religious in nature; having their social and political views deeply infused by traditionalism, something John Banks is well known for. Indeed he has often been quoted for his belief in a very literal interpretation of biblical texts; a reflection of his conservative nature and the two Dogs in his Four Pillars.

There are two other interesting items in the mix of Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches that give us insights to Mr Bank's life and personality. The combination of the Heavenly Stem of his day of birth, which is Yang Metal with that of the Heavenly Stem of the year of his birth, Yang Fire. Since in the interplay of the five elements, fire conquers metal, it can be said that fire is the conquering element of metal. When one finds the conquering element in the four pillars it indicates the type of power one might be able to exercise in life. When the power or conquering element is yin, it indicates a normal level of power in life and usually shows the person will be employed (with a boss); especially if the Heavenly Stem of the person's Day Pillar is Yang. However, when someone has both the conquering element and the self element show up in their four pillars, and both are Yang, it indicates the person is likely to reach positions of considerable authority, exercising real power over others. This is known as extreme power. Mr Banks has served as cabinet minister in at least ten portfolios, including those of Minister of Police and Education, both high profile cabinet posts. In fact it has been said that Minister of Police was the one portfolio that he particularly wanted. This was due to a high ranking police officer; having once overseen the arrest of the young John Banks' parents, sneeringly predicting that the younger Banks himself would end up a jailbird. This was the motivation for the adult John Banks to succeed in life. It is interesting therefore that the month he was eventually to reach the prestigious office of Minister of Police, the Heavenly Stem was also his Power element of Yang Fire. The same factor of extreme power can be found in the Four Pillars of Helen Clarke and John Key.

The second somewhat unusual thing about his Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches mix is related to the Yang Metal of his day of birth and the Dog. When these two meet, it is said the person has the Days of Fai Kong. These Days of Fai Kong indicate a particularly strong character indeed, one in fact so strong that it is said, if such a person sees a ghost and shouts at that ghost, it is the ghost who will turn and run! Ghosts or no ghosts, it does give us some indication as to the level of inner strength of the man.

  • Current 10 Yr Luck Pillar: 2008
  • Yang Fire
  • Horse (Yin Fire)
  • Next 10 Yr Luck Pillar: 2018
  • Yin Fire
  • Goat (Earth)

Up to the age of 62, Mr Banks enjoyed a long period of ascendency and seemed to have left the awful circumstances of his childhood well and truly behind, marrying and adopting three children. However, in 2008 he changed his Luck Pillar to Yang Fire sitting on the Horse. This brought his Yang Power element into further play. This strengthening of the fire in his chart was not to auger well for him. In 2010 he lost his bid to gain the Mayoralty for Auckland for a third term. The next year, 2011, he controversially ran for the seat of Epsom under the ACT Party ticket and won. However, his last term in parliament continued to be contentious and although he again held several Ministerial posts; displaying once more his power/fire element, on the 16th October, 2013 he resigned. Significantly, 2013 was the year of the snake, also equivalent to Yang Fire and his conquering or power element. This time however, this additional Yang Fire in his Luck Pillars combined against him with the Yang Fire of the Year of the Snake, proving too strong for his weak metal. These two very strong fire elements overwhelm Mr Bank's personal weak metal and see the roles reversed with he himself, now becoming subject to the majesty of the law; the ultimate conquering or power element.

In addition to the political maelstrom to have engulfed him in the past couple of years, on the personal level, Banks and his wife recently separated. Tough times indeed.

Looking forward however, to the upcoming court ruling and as to whether or not he is to have a conviction entered against him, and if so, what the ensuing punishment might be, we can conjecture at least, as to the likely outcome. Sentencing is set for the 1st August 2014. This day will be a day of Yang Wood sitting on the Dragon. This does not presage well for Mr Banks. The Heavenly Stem of the Day, Yang Wood, clashes directly against Mr Banks' own Heavenly Stem of Yang Metal, weakening it further. But even more importantly, that day is a Clash Day. So not only will his two Dogs, be in direct clash against the Dragon of the Day, but the nature of the day itself will be one of Clash. Clash indicates disturbance and frustration, often providing a dramatic interruption to one's life. From this we can postulate the day is not likely to go well for Mr Banks. Whatever the outcome, I doubt we will see Mr John Banks back in parliament. Of course, for men like this, who never seem to be shy about promoting themselves and frequently garner a reputation for arrogance, it's not surprising that many want to see them taken down a peg or two; perhaps that's just natural. But it's hardly edifying to see the glee with which so many seem to rejoice at his disgrace. Looking forward John Banks will eventually reach a new milestone and enter his 7th Luck Pillar in 2018. He will by then be 72 yrs of age. This will see Yin Fire sitting on the earth of the Goat. As the goat is of strong earth element and will be further strengthened by the yin fire, (Fire produces earth in Five Element theory), this period ought to be more helpful to Mr Banks' weak metal. I believe this will at last see a time of greater calm and peace for a man who has lead a life of many ups and downs, most of it as he himself has described, 'Raised by Sir Robert Muldoon in the ways of the bear pit'. By then, he will surely have earned some time out of the public glare. Let us hope he will take it and enjoy it. Love him or hate him, John Archibald Banks, like his predecessors Seddon and Muldoon, kept many Kiwis entertained for years with his shenanigans.


Richard 'King Dick' Seddon

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