Opinion

Tipping the scale with Māori seats is only patronising and divisive

Has the Tauranga City Council embarked on a new era of inclusiveness with the decision to establish a Māori Ward for the 2022 local government elections, or have they driven the wedge of division even deeper into an already seriously divided community? Wellington City Council has also recently discussed the same possibility and both councils were divided by ill-informed and acrimonious argument. It is too easy to label those who disagree, or agree, with the concept as racist but both sides to the debate have done that already. With a few notable exceptions in recent times, including the reaction to the return of wrongly taken land in Tauranga to Māori not long ago, that is an overly simplistic and unhelpful reaction to what is a much more complex issue than it may first appear. While there is racism in all communities there is also a significant number of people on both sides of the question with strongly held opinions based on equality and the high principles of true democracy and it is simply wrong to suggest they are all racist. They are not. During the Tauranga discussion it was claimed that there had not been an elected councillor of Māori descent in the past 28 years but there was no indication of how many unsuccessful Māori candidates there had been in that time either. There was an unsuccessful Māori candidate in the 2017 who only missed out by a few votes but that is the very nature of elections. There appears also an assumption that non-Māori voters will not vote for Māori candidates so having dedicated Maori seats is the only way to have Māori on councils. The number of Maori in general seats in Parliament suggests there is more to the matter than simple racism. A lack of Maori candidates and a voter turn-out of little more than forty percent are more important considerations. Much has been said of nebulous partnership between Māori and the Crown but local Government is not the Crown, neither are Pakeha nor the wider non-Māori community. The Crown is exclusively the executive wing of…

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Saving the Home in hard times.

It is difficult to understand why so many people are taking the unnecessary risk of losing their homes through unmanaged mortgage default when a rescue package is available simply for the asking.

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No room for politics in pandemics

We won the first round against Covid-19 on points only. We took a bit of a hammering and collected a few bruises in the process but the fight is far from over. We also dodged a few low blows from some in the audience who wanted the government to drop its guard and relax border controls.

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Fanciful Tales of History

Have we become a little too sensitive about our history? Riding in on the coat tails of an ill-informed public stoush over monuments to New Zealand’s colonial past Sir William Gallagher has again pushed the fury buttons of a few people when he claimed there were humans in New Zealand at the time of the last Taupo eruption, estimated at about 2250 years ago, and that there had been several civilisations in New Zealand here before Maori. It is not the first time he has made such statements and probably won’t be the last.   Such fanciful tales about ancient peoples from China, Norway and Ireland have been circulating for almost a hundred years. The reality is that the further back into history we delve the more blurred the line between reality and myth becomes but most tribal histories, particularly those of the Waikato region, refer to people who were here before them, the people they called Tangata Whenua, the people of the land. Even more intriguing are the stories of the pale-skinned, fair-headed Patupaiarehe, the so-called fairy people of Maori mythology who were said to have lived high on heavily forested mountains and often captured Maori women. The language of the Patupaiarehe seems to have been a dialect of classical Maori and could be readily understood but their songs were very difficult for Maori people to remember. One melody however has survived and is recorded in Nga Moteatea by Aprirana Ngata and Pei Te Hurinui. It is a sad song of farewell and includes references to people and events now long forgotten. Adding to the mystery of early arrivals was the discovery, in 1877, of a ship wreck on the coast between Raglan and Aotea harbours. Mariners of the time, who were experts at vessel identification, described the wreck as not of British design, large but ancient. The heavy five layered decking was held together with wooden, copper and iron fastenings. The wreck was exposed again in 1893. There have also been recent claims of giants was even a book written in the past forty years about the very…

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More korero, less shouting on preserving our history

Monuments and memories of the past have been in the news in recent weeks and on almost all occasions for all the wrong reasons. It is appropriate from time to time to examine and question how we remember our past but that needs to be done in a reasoned and intelligent manner by reasonable and intelligent people if we are going to come to a sound and acceptable decision. Over the past few weeks however intelligence and reason have been roughly shouldered aside by ignorance of our history, ill-informed grandstanding and threats of vandalism against monuments to the colonial past in Waikato including a statue of Captain Hamilton. The most dramatic of those threats appears to have been led by a senior activist from Huntly who has expressed strong objections to his one-sided version of history. While he is free to hold this views, and express them loudly, that freedom does not extend to vandalism or even threats of vandalism. That brought an inevitable, predictable and equally ignorant response with threats of violence and other infantile reactions from some people who levelled abuse and a veiled threat of lynching against Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate​. The abuse came as a reaction to the removal of the Hamilton statue to protect it from threatened damage and in an apparent attempt to take the heat out of the debate. On one occasion, the mayor had to be escorted to her car following a late-night meeting after a group of angry people arrived at council offices demanding to see her. This is not the Wild West or some redneck enclave in a Louisiana back water. New Zealanders generally don’t take kindly to such threats against their elected representatives regardless of politics and both groups should know better. The standout exception in these discussions has been a group from Ngaruawahia who want to protect historic food pits and the site of ancient garden sites from destruction by a proposed sub-division. Ngati Tamainupo has protested against the destruction the old garden sites on private land destined for housing in Ngāruawāhia for about six weeks. A petition…

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Government support for Gambling hard to justify

As many New Zealanders and business owners burst their boilers and bubbles trying to return to some form of normality after Covid-19 we have the opportunity to decide at least some of the elements which will make up that new normal. There seems little doubt that we will have to become more self-reliant than we have been for the past century or more

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Pandemic – a chance to re-set NZ tourism

Last week Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis launched a project in which Government and industry leaders will work together on a plan to restart tourism. They should not forget that we have been priced out of, and crowded out of, our favourite outdoor places for far too long by tourists while the industry ignored pleas to slow down and reduce the harm. Instead, with single minded determination, the industry went courting ever greater numbers each year with the misleading Clean Green propaganda message

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Return to old ways with Novel Coronavirus

In times of adversity we should remember how our parents and grandparents managed in difficult times. Most of us have heard about the impact on society of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War which followed.

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Giant Tale maks cynical attempt to undermine NZ’s original people.

Many people will be relieved that a group of amateur explorers have given up their search for evidence of a race of eight-foot pre-Polynesian people in caves in the remote rural area of Waikaretu. Every culture has ancient legends of unusual people in their folk lore. The Irish have their mischievous leprechauns and Maori have the pale skinned Patupaiarehe. Giants also feature in most cultural histories but, so far, there is no reliable evidence of any giant humans of that size in New Zealand or anywhere else. It is highly unlikely that humans could grow to eight feet in height and still function normally and many people of heights close to seven feet have skeletal and mobility disabilities.   The unidentified explorers, like many mis-informed enthusiasts before them have, however, not given up the quest to find evidence of giant people who lived in New Zealand before the Polynesians who became known as Maori. They claim to have three other locations to search for proof that these giants were the first humans in New Zealand, which they expect to be the most talked about worldwide story of the millennium. It won’t be. It will just another idealistic tale based on nothing more than a mis-identified bone, thought to be that of a moa, guess work and day dreams. Beyond the insensitivity of digging about for human remains it seemed relatively harmless. However, one archaeologist has detected something a little more sinister than misguided explorers and suggested there were racist undertones among people who refute the right of Maori to bring claims against Crown for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. That view is support by a teaching academic who studies conspiracy theories and who said theories about pre-Polynesian inhabitants of New Zealand were often used to make some variation of the claim that white people were here first and (therefore) the Treaty of Waitangi was null and void. Sadly, those opinions are not new and indicate a lamentable ignorance of New Zealand history. The treaty in fact did nothing more than establish British law and the Westminster parliamentary style of government in New…

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A wish list for 2020

In the first week of each new year, for the past three or four decades, I have looked back through the scribbled pages of my now filled diary and wonder how we survived it all. Then I look at the pristine unmarked pages of the new diary and wonder what issues and events will fill them over the coming 12 months. There will no doubt be developments to celebrate like weddings and new additions to our extended clan and there will be sad but inevitable losses among the ranks of family and friends. These are the things we know will mark the pages of our year with tears of happiness and grief and we prepare for them as best we can but we have very little control over them. There will also be major achievements to celebrate and be proud of as well as tragedies and atrocities which we should be able to avoid but too often fail to do so. Among the successful achievements for the past year I have noted the campaign to have our history properly taught in schools. There had been many requests in recent years for that development which were, initially resisted by the Ministry of Education, some teachers and far too many parents. Like most other nations our history has not always been a pretty story and there are aspects of our beginnings as a modern nation which haunt us still but that was no justification to lock it away in old books in dusty cupboards where our children could not read and learn about it. A promise that the Government was going to make rail fashionable again was also welcomed by many but, as yet, it is still just a promise. However given the massive fleet of huge long haul trucks wearing out expensive roads since the demise of rail few would disagree that making rail a key part of a balanced transport future was good idea. The establishment of a new Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts in Waikato, following a trial in Auckland, was also a success during the past year….

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