Friday, March 12, 2021

In New Zealand today

■ It was drearily predictable that young, female commentators online and in print would unquestioningly accept Meghan Markle’s account of the affronts and injustices supposedly heaped upon her. So it was refreshing to see the New Zealand actress Teuila Blakely suggest that perhaps the “racist” comment about the colour of young Archie’s skin – supposedly made by a member of the royal family who remains unidentified (if indeed it was made at all) – might not have been so racist after all.

In these situations, as Blakely (who is of mixed race) points out, context can be everything. “At a time where [sic] racism is at the forefront of our world in terms of creating awareness around it, I think [those comments] can be damning,” the New Zealand Herald reported her as saying. “[But] I think what’s really important to remember [is] we didn’t understand the context of that conversation or how those those concerns were presented.

“For the royal family, who have never had a person of colour come into their ranks before, the possibility that their first great-grandchild could be coloured would be a conversation you would have.” She said similar conversations had happened in her own extended family when her Samoan mother entered the picture.

The Herald reported the former Shortland Street star as saying the context of the situation dictated whether the comment was the product of racism or something more innocent.

Precisely. Until we know in what context the supposedly racist comment was made – and specifically what was said, by whom and in what tone – we can’t judge whether it was malignant or harmless. But that hasn’t stopped Markle’s enraged supporters automatically concluding that she has been grievously wronged and that the Windsors are a family of contemptible white supremacists.

And here’s another thing. It’s Markle who insists on making an issue of her race and therefore presenting herself as a victim. Is it possible that the fact she and Archie have African-American blood actually doesn’t matter to most people, including the royal family?

■ So Wellington City Council has voted 12-3 to establish a Maori ward. “Maori voices must be at the table; it can’t be left to chance,” said Cr Jill Day, who is of Ngati Tuwharetoa lineage.

Spot something odd in that statement? That’s right – Maori voices are already at the table. Day is one of two councillors who identify as Maori, the other being Tamatha Paul.

They were elected without the benefit of a Maori ward and there’s nothing to stop other Maori candidates from being similarly elected, provided they put themselves forward for office and persuade voters to support them, just as Day and Paul did. I could also mention Paul Eagle, who was seven years a councillor and would almost certainly now be mayor of Wellington if he hadn’t been elected MP for Rongotai (a general electorate where in the last election he won 57 percent of the votes competing on equal terms with every other candidate).

Oh, and we shouldn’t forget Ray Ahipene-Mercer, who served on the council for 16 years and is quoted in the Dominion Post today as questioning whether a Maori ward is necessary. “I would only ever stand on the same basis as any other person, irrespective of ethnicity,” Ahipene-Mercer said. Good on him.

“It can’t be left to chance” is an absurd statement. The only element of chance in winning election to the council is the one faced by all candidates. They have to convince voters to support them. That’s how democracy works.

Or at least it did, until now. But the legislation that was shamefully rushed through Parliament last month under urgency – the legislation Labour was careful to keep quiet about during last year’s election campaign – fundamentally changes the dynamics of local democracy by introducing race-based wards, thereby bestowing on Maori a privilege not enjoyed by other sectors of the community (and one they clearly don’t need, as the election of Eagle, Ahipene-Mercer, Day and Paul, not to mention  the many Maori councillors in other districts, shows).

Already there are signs that this may turn pear-shaped. Liz Mellish, speaking for an iwi grouping that regards Wellington as its rohe, or territory, is quoted today as saying she wants to know who would be eligible to vote in the Maori ward and how the new arrangement would affect her organisation's relationship with the council. “In a city like Wellington, we as mana whenua are outnumbered by other Maori. We need to ensure that mana whenua relationship continues.”

This sounds like an assumption of prior rights based on iwi affiliation, regardless of numbers or voter support, and seems to bear out warnings that tribalism and democracy are fundamentally incompatible.

The last thing Wellington needs now, on top of all its existing torments, is the prospect of an iwi power struggle over who has the right to represent the new Maori ward. But perhaps the city should start bracing itself for more convulsions.

■ A New Zealand Herald story today – I won’t embarrass the reporter by naming him – quotes Chris Hipkins as saying, in relation to criminal deportees from Australia: “To all intensive purposes many have lived the vast bulk of their lives in Australia.”

Good grief. I imagine that Hipkins actually said "to all intents and purposes" - a phrase perhaps unfamiliar to the reporter. The current generation of journalists, at least on paper, is probably the most educated in history. So why do so many write as if English is their second language?


Trev1 said...

Yes, the Maori ward in Wellington is going to get interesting. The self-declared "mana whenua", whose ancestors overwhelmed the previous "mana whenua" in the early 19th century, might be expected to guard their prerogatives jealously. The woke champions of this undemocratic absurdity will find they have kicked over a hornets' nest.

CXH said...

I doubt the local iwi positioning itself to be in the controlling position is based on tribal differences. They can all see the trough being stocked with more unaccountable cash. This is what they want to control and the elbows will be out.

As for the Megan claims, this is just another example of the hypocrisy shown these days. An unjustified claim of an unacceptable thought is derided with accusations of fascist etc. Yet any unsubstantiated claim from those they agree with is considered an absolute truth, thoughtful questions face the same abuse.

transpress nz said...

Hopefully those Wellington councillors who voted for the Maori ward will be voted out by the general electors next year. I live in Jill Day's ward and know who I won't be voting for. Mind you, if the projected double digit Rates increase happens, they may all be replaced next year, including Dandy Andy.

Unknown said...

A great pity the Royals didn't take note of Markles step-sister who stated, around the time of the engagement, that Markle would destroy the Royal family, or words to that effect. I concur totally with Piers Morgan in his condemnation of H and M. They are despicably selfish and pathetic, but I also believe their type are dangerous. Their false diatribe is eagerly hoovered up by the media and lavishly publicised. BTW I didn't waste my time watching the Oprah thing, had more important stuff such as housework to do.....

Andy Espersen said...

As regards Maori wards in our cities is there not one other aspect we should consider? The Treaty of Waitangi was between the Crown and corporate Maori. And for many decades Maori lived “out there”, on their estates – while we Pakeha were building cities on land legally acquired from Maori. From the very beginning all decisions about cities were decided the Pakeha way – via elected councils. A few individual Maori did move to the cities – and, of course, received the same rights and privileges as all other residents (as guaranteed in the Treaty). It was never expected that corporate Maori would ever have any say in local affairs.

But now we see Maori muscling into the cities – expecting corporate rights that most certainly weren’t envisaged in the Treaty.

Doug Longmire said...

This is simply Apartheid. This is clearly the direction that the current government is taking. By coincidence I am currently re-reading George Orwell's "1984". The similarities are striking
1/ Separate development like it was in South Africa. Remember what a success that was !!! As a pharmacist, I am being told to treat patients differently if they are Maori. This goes against all good pharmacy practcie that I have known for 50 years.

2/ "hate speech" laws on the way. Hate speech being defined (as per Ardern's statement) as "you will know it when you see it". Translated this means any spoken or written opinion that the authorities do not like.

3/ Centralization of all wealth and property. (The socialist dream). This is to be achieved by the current hysteria over "human caused global warming", a giant scam being perpetrated by the U.N. and openly stated by them.

4/ "Thoughtcrime". This means holding any opinion that disagrees with the current Left wing woke lunacy. e.g. - stating the self evident fact that there are only two biological genders.

5/ Re writing history. This is under way right now. George Orwell describes it is his book very clearly. We can be sure that the re write will portray Maori as being a peaceful, highly developed, tranquil and sensitive arboreal people, and settlers being and invading army determined to subject the local people.

Doug Longmire said...

They got your message Karl.
"Intensive" is now "intents and"

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I've always found it ironic when people bleat on about the "violence of colonialism" that in Wellington, it was the Wellington Company who traded (non-violently) for land with the local Maori population, who themselves had only recently violently evicted the indigenous Maori population from the entire area.