Ever heard of the Woodville Wire? No, I hadn’t either, until a couple of days ago. It’s a newsletter that publishes community news and comment on local issues in a southern Hawke’s Bay town where nothing much happens (at least, not usually).
I'm guessing the Wire’s readership would be counted in the hundreds, at most, yet this very modest news sheet has unexpectedly been pitched headlong into the culture wars. What follows is a cautionary tale about the febrile state of Maori-Pakeha relations and the precariousness of free speech - freedom of the press too, come to that - in a climate of state-sanctioned authoritarian orthodoxy.
In October last year, a local woman named Annette Nepe sent the Woodville Wire an article about a petition she had launched urging the InterCity bus service to reinstate its local bus stop. Ms Nepe prefaced her article with the greeting “Kia ora nau mai, ngā mihi nui koutou katoa”, which she explained meant “Welcome everyone, big friendly greeting to all”.
Nothing controversial here, surely. The subject of the article was one that might be described as parish-pump – i.e. of purely local concern. The tone of Ms Nepe’s email, as far as we can ascertain, was cheerful and (to use a fashionable word) inclusive. But Ms Nepe wanted the Maori greeting included with her article, “to reflect her culture”, and things turned sour when the editor of the Wire, Jane Hill, refused.
She told Ms Nepe in an email that it would have been respectful to ask, rather than demand, that the article be published. (Was it a “demand”? We don’t know, because the full email exchange hasn’t been disclosed.)
Ms Hill went on to say: “Secondly, this is not a Maori newsletter; it is a community newsletter and everyone in this community speaks English.
“I, as well as many New Zealanders am not in favour of giving one cultural group special privilege regarding their language simply because they (falsely) claim first nation status.
“Thirdly, why should we elevate the Maori language for you, when you clearly show no respect for the English language. It is extremely poor.
“I will write an article about the public transport system and encourage people to sign the petition as have I.”
Phew. Talk about lighting the blue touch paper. Ms Nepe subsequently brought legal proceedings against Ms Hill in the Human Rights Tribunal, alleging racial harassment. The case went to mediation and resulted in what might be described as a complete capitulation by Ms Hill.
According to a press release issued by the Office of Human Rights Proceedings, which is part of the Human Rights Commission, Ms Hill made the following statement:
“I, Ms Hill, acknowledge the hurt that was done to Ms Nepe by the correspondence I sent.
“Now that I can see the effects of the experience on Ms Nepe, I am willing and committed to changing the way I engage with Maori in my community.”
According to the press statement, Ms Nepe thanked Ms Hill for her apology. “This is good for both of us; I’m happy that we talked. This is a good outcome and a step towards repairing and growing relationships in the Woodville community. We both agree racism has no place in Aotearoa New Zealand and we’re on the road to eliminating it.”
All settled, then. Ms Hill suitably contrite, Ms Nepe gracious in her response – although of course it’s easy to be big-hearted in victory. I imagine the Office of Human Rights Proceedings was pleased with itself too for its part in exposing and publicly shaming a supposed racist, albeit a now remorseful one.
Predictably, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, New Zealand’s No. 2 official finger-wagger (Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt is numero uno), weighed in with a gratuitous and patronising statement – a pat on the head, figuratively speaking – welcoming “the willingness to move forward in an informed manner”.
So ... all done and dusted. Except that the episode is likely to leave many people feeling distinctly uncomfortable about creeping authoritarianism and the imposition of a penalty, in the form of a public shaming, for speaking freely. It should also be viewed as a direct attack on press freedom, given that it undermines the right of an editor to determine what she should publish.
We don’t know what transpired behind closed doors in mediation. It’s quite possible Ms Hill had a genuine road-to-Damascus experience, as the official statement suggests. But it’s also possible that confronted with the weight of the state’s punitive apparatus and the prospect of continuing stress and controversy if she stood her ground, she felt the easiest way out was to back down. I'm guessing the signal was conveyed to her that it was the appropriate thing to do.
If so, she wouldn’t have been the first. In 2020 I wrote about the case of a Taranaki nurse who was deregistered by the powerful Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal for making derogatory comments about some of her Maori colleagues. She too found herself up caught up in an intimidating quasi-judicial process and subsequently issued what might be categorised as a grovelling apology. I wrote then that a newspaper account of the tribunal proceedings left the discomforting impression of a show trial.
In both instances, the instigators did themselves no favours by their initial actions. The nurse’s statements on Facebook were, by her own admission, impulsive and offensive, although the consequences were wildly overstated by a complainant who appeared eager to make the most of the situation.
Similarly, Ms Hill was needlessly provocative and antagonistic in her email to Ms Nepe, apparently seizing the opportunity to vent opinions that she could have chosen to keep to herself. But it’s possible to acknowledge these faults while still feeling uneasy about the way events unfolded. In both the Taranaki and Woodville cases there appears to have been a disproportionately heavy-handed response from a system that seemed keen to make a public example of the transgressors.
Does anyone, I wonder, consider that the personal consequences might greatly outweigh the perceived offence? In the Taranaki case, the nurse subsequently struggled to find work. She was effectively blacklisted. Now I note that in both the Stuff and New Zealand Herald stories about the Woodville Wire episode, Ms Hill is described as the “former” editor.
What does this mean? Did she quit in disillusionment? Did she feel so bruised by the unpleasantness of the complaint procedure that she decided it wasn’t worth going on? Or was she fired for bringing the Wire into disrepute? I know nothing about the management and ownership structure of the Wire, so can’t say. She may, of course, have been planning to leave anyway.
But what I would say is this: Someone, perhaps Ms Hill herself, took a punt in establishing the Woodville Wire, presumably because they saw it as providing a useful service to the community. They would have committed their own capital to the venture, to say nothing of their labour and skill, with no guarantee of a financial return. Now a person with no stake in the enterprise has been able, with the help of a busybody government agency, to exert power over it and subject the editor to a demeaning quasi-judicial process, possibly even to the extent (this is pure conjecture on my part) of triggering her departure. Hands up all those who think that’s fair.
Furthermore, the Woodville Wire is presumably a private undertaking. Ms Hill broke no law. She is therefore not answerable to government functionaries. Yet she was subjected to a humiliating and very public ticking-off (public because the Office of Human Rights Proceedings made it so) which, by implication, painted her as a racist. Where is the justice in that?
Would Ms Nepe have pursued her complaint had Ms Hill responded more diplomatically? We don’t know. But as things stand, it seems the worst Ms Hill can be accused of is impoliteness and candour. Last time I checked, being rude and forthright didn’t breach any law.
Certainly, Ms Hill’s behaviour falls far short of “racial harassment”, which is how the Office of Human Rights Proceedings described the case. Lest there be any doubt about the gravity of Ms Hill’s supposed offence, the Office’s press statement was headlined “Racial harassment case settles”.
Harassment? Really?? My New Zealand Oxford Dictionary defines the verb “harass” as meaning “to trouble or annoy continually or repeatedly” (the italics are mine). All Ms Hill did, evidently, was send a single email to which Ms Nepe took offence. How does that amount to harassment? A good lawyer would surely have moved for the complaint to be dismissed outright as a nullity.
Here’s the thing. Ms Hill was entitled to decide what to publish, and by logical extension what not to publish. As editor, she was legally responsible for the content of the Woodville Wire. That imposes obligations but it also carries rights, including the right of refusal to publish a statement in te reo. People may legitimately disagree with her decision in this instance, but it’s hers to make.
Incidentally, I can’t help wondering whether the Media Council would have been a more appropriate forum for resolving the issue. I’m speculating again here, but perhaps the state human rights apparatus was preferred because there was a better chance of a favourable outcome for the complainant. The Media Council has been known, after all, to uphold the autonomy of editors.
And here’s another thing. Will activist lawyers and Maori language advocates regard the Woodville Wire case as a precedent, opening the way to future insistence on the publication of statements in Maori? You can bet they will. And will timid or woke editors now consider themselves obliged to publish submitted content in te reo even though only a tiny minority of their readers can understand it? Very likely.
I have asked myself whether I, as a former (very former) newspaper editor, would have published Ms Nepe’s Maori greeting. I probably would have, because it was charming (am I permitted to say that?), quirky and harmless. But that’s not the point; Ms Hill was entitled to decide as she did without then being pressured, through the intervention of an ideologically driven government agency, to recant.
The whole affair leaves a bad taste. There is a balance to be struck between use of the English and Maori languages, and New Zealanders are steadily working towards that goal. Note the increased frequency with which Maori words and phrases (kapai, whanau, waiata, kuia) have naturally been absorbed into everyday speech. But a sullen resistance sets in when people perceive that te reo is being imposed on them, as is happening now, by an elite political/academic/media caste rather than being allowed to evolve organically.
The Woodville Wire case, however, is about much more than the use of te reo. More disturbingly, it stands as a lesson that anyone bold or rash enough to challenge prevailing orthodoxies risks being publicly pilloried, with the state’s active complicity. This is true regardless of whether Ms Hill had a genuine and sincere change of heart.
Observing the fate of someone who did no more than exercise her editorial prerogative in what she no doubt thought was a private email, people will reasonably conclude that the only safe course in New Zealand is to keep potentially contentious opinions to themselves or express them only to trusted friends. That can only have a chilling effect on public debate, which of course is exactly the intended outcome. If you sometimes sense the pincers of state control gradually tightening around you, it’s probably because they are.
Does anyone, I wonder, consider that the personal consequences might greatly outweigh the perceived offence?
No, because that is the whole point of these modern attacks on free speech. Surely you've seen the growing numbers of online Lefties (usually youngish) arguing that free speech "doesn't mean escaping the consequences" - without ever specifying what those consequences might be, and with a clear implication that any consequences are justified, including loss of jobs, careers, etc.
The old idea that consequences for free speech should extend no farther than defamation actions has been tossed. Speak up? Watch out.
(kapai, whanau, waiata, kuia)
I have never heard or acknowledged such noises so don't understand your point but the bullying of humans by others is a long standing occurrence.
Moon and his cohort of racists have quite a reputation for doing this.
What a shame Ms Hill, rather than bending, did not form a possie armed with whips and ropes and reinforce her point with righteous vigour - starting with Moon.
NZ would have stood and cheered!
Karl two things:
1. What has happened to The Bush Telegraph - has it disappeared into newspaper oblivion.
2. Woodville is not in Southern Hawkes Bay -let my then 95 or 96 year old uncle (now deceased 18 months ago at 97) explain - the following is a precis from a post I did on the subject at No Minister.
`Yesterday mrspdm and I picked him up so he could see his GP for assessment. We did not go in with him and when he came out he told us that after a quick visit with his GP she passed him on to a Nurse who was to run some tests – one of which was a memory test and it is here he really showed his mettle. He was asked to remember and repeat the following:
Mr Jim Brown lives at 3 Church Street, Woodville, Hawkes Bay.
He did it word perfect except he stopped after Woodville so she said to him you missed a line could you repeat it please, so he did again in exactly the same way with the same result. After the third `failed’ time she said to him she said you keep missing Hawkes Bay.
His response – Woodville is not in Hawkes Bay.
I think he nearly had to pick her up off the floor from what he told us.'
Link to the full post is here for those interested.
Woodville has certainly been home to a bit of cultural controversy over recent years.
back in 2019 local man Milton Wainwright took exception to a Maori carving at the entrance to the public walkway which traversed the Manawatu Gorge from West to East . Mr Wainwright was so disturbed by this particular sculpture, which was of a male figure complete with a stylized appendage, that he took the law into his own hands.
Ironically Mr Wainwright is the curator of Woodville's Historical Organ Museum.
For his efforts in the field of cultural emasculation, Mr Wainwright was fined $2000 and ordered to participate in restorative justice.
If he had committed this vandalism today, I wonder if he would have escaped with such a lenient penalty or would he have been subjected to an inquisition from the cultural police?
pdm the "Bush Telegraph" is still published free in Pahiatua every Monday but its no longer privately owned and is published as part of the New Zealand Herald. Consequently it is full of big city advertising and from my perspective has a positive leaning to the Labour Party with Lots of full page stories about local MP Kieran McAnulty.
I recommend its paper quality as a first rate fire starter.
Somehow the Blackadder episode'The Witchsmeller Pursuivant' seems like a documentary, rather than satire.
Hi Karl, "legal proceedings" is more normally used to describe a court action. What seems to have happened in this case is someone took advantage of a dispute resolution service provided by the Office Of Human Rights Proceedings within the Human Right Commision. There are quite a few dispute resolution services provided by the Executive branch of the Government, and all are designed to *specifically* prevent matters ending up before the Judiciary.
The Office of Human Rights Proceedings (sec 20 Human Rights Act 1993) is not the Human Rights [Review] Tribunal, the latter falling under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice to manage (not the HRC).
You also leave out the context of te Reo being an official language of New Zealand (along with NZ Sign language). Ms Nepe should never have been placed in the position of having to defend its legal use.
And to the others commenting on where Woodville is. It was originally called The Junction and was the southern part of the southern Hawkes Bay at the junction of the Manawatu and the Wairarapa. It's now actually part of Manawatū-Whanganui district.
Fiddily di di di di do.
Wait until the Police visit you.
You assume and conclude : “There is a balance to be struck between use of the English and Maori languages, and New Zealanders are steadily working towards that goal.”
Well, yes, it is happening as we speak (excuse my pun) – but that is absolutely nobody's business. We should do nothing to plan the languages we speak – or determine where “a balance” should be struck. Languages, like cultures, must be left to develop on their own – cannot and must not be determined or shoe-horned in by any authority. And we should never consciously "[work] towards that goal".
Our terrible problem is that we have a woke government that naively believes that whatever wayward, ideological idea they conceive can be realised simply by being decreed! All 5 million of us New Zealanders must become bilingual, including (of course!) the hundreds of thousands of new immigrants from dozens of other cultures, all arriving with dozens of other native languages. Jacinda decrees, “I say it must happen!” Abracadabra! The fact that every linguist and educator worth his salt will tell you that it is simply physically impossible to revive a dead language – let alone develop it into a usable language on par with English. The absurdity of it all is being found out in New Zealand at this very moment. What do you expect Teachers’ Unions and many others are telling the government right now? We are frightfully short of teachers in ordinary subjects already – how do you think we can get thousands more Maori teachers? And what will teachers say by being told that their curricula must now be diminished to make room for the teaching of Maori? Many children’s proficiency in English is already decreasing when compared to other similar countries – will now having to absorb another language compulsorily help that problem or make it worse?
Within a couple of years (after some years with a conservative government) this whole neurotic, inane obsession about our two languages will have fizzled out, never to be heard of again - simply because New Zealand cannot become bilingual. Period.
Interesting story, pdm, but with all due respect to your late uncle, what makes him the authority? My New Zealand Encyclopaedia and Place Names of New Zealand both locate Woodville in Hawke's Bay.
I too wondered whether the phrase "legal proceedings" was technically correct, but it was used in the press statement issued by the Office of Human Rights Proceedings: https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK2212/S00373/racial-harassment-case-settles.htm
The action in the Human Rights Review tribunal was by Nepe against Jane Hill and a council body, Woodville Districts Vision, so that would have added to the pressure for a settlement. Terms of the settlement were confidential but obviously included the big apology. What a disgusting outcome. No editor should have to run Maori words in an English publication!
Josie Pagani has an excellent opinion piece on Stuff this morning about the increasing cultural division in New Zealand, and the growing resentment against the rigid conformity being imposed by the Wellington elite on the rest of the country. Perhaps Mrs Hill's reaction was a symptom of that. While her refusal to publish Mrs Nepe's Maori greeting and translation seems irrational, the HRC's heavy handed involvement and posturing vindicates the concern many feel about the totalitarian enthusiasm of the current regime for dictating the world view of all New Zealanders.
I agree Pagani's piece was excellent. She is consistently one of NZ's most clear-sighted columnists.
Thanks AprilGuy, that certainly adds to the picture :-)
Who, other than a Government Dept, Council, Media or an idiot would communicate in whole or in part in a language that 95% + people in NZ do not understand and 99.99999% of the rest of the world
I know someone who tutors English to German children because they see advantages in being fluent in English
Nowhere in the world is Te Reo an advantage
I kept a copy of the Stuff article to read at some later time, later later maybe – not expecting Karl to give us a comprehensive round up on the issue. Karl, I thought we were all taking a holiday from political and cultural issues, and that your blog might done the same. The politicians don’t return to Wellington until Anniversary weekend. I am however in the habit of checking in occasionally. But, you have fastened on an issue which has caused me considerable angst for quite a while, i.e. Maori language and culture, and its place in the wider culture.
A couple of points.
The Woodville Wire editor was surely entitled at all times to invoke editorial privilege without any further discussion. Warning, hindsight follows. If the editor had simply ignored Nepe’s request, without comment or referral, and published the contribution sans the Maori language salutation would the issue have progressed to this point? Probably not.
The Human Rights Tribunal ought to have acknowledged the concept of editorial privilege and been a lot less heavy handed in its approach. Meng Foon has in the past been more than somewhat trigger-happy. He once accused the Police of being racist and was required to withdraw and apologise.
It would be interesting to know how the Human Rights Tribunal managed to strong-arm the Woodville Wire editor into submission.
A Media Council complaint would not have gone far. A scan of their complaints page usually finds about two to three percent of complaints upheld.
I have sounded off on the Maori language and culture issue before today. For anyone who is interested a couple of my blog posts can be found here:
The commenter who identifies himself as AprilGuy suggests the Tararua District Council is involved in the Woodville Wire case through an organisation called Woodville Vision.
That led me to the website of Woodville Districts Vision Inc, which describes itself as an organisation that represents the Woodville community and works with the council. But the picture is murky.
Woodville Districts Vision Inc, which apparently now calls itself Woodville Community Committee Inc, was cited as second defendant in the complaint brought by Ms Nepe. That suggests Woodville Vision was at least to some extent responsible for Woodville Wire, but again the picture is frustratingly opaque.
An online search revealed the following minute from a November 2021 meeting of Woodville Districts Vision:
“WOODVILLE WIRE: The Chair referred to the Executive Committee minutes re the recent complaint and noted that there is a perception in the community that the Woodville Wire came from Woodville Districts’ Vision (due to the first publication, the Woodvillian, being a Woodville Districts’ Vision publication). There was an open discussion regarding the Woodville Wire. P Tayler advised that J Hill [editor of the Wire] had resigned. There was confirmation that it was a community newsletter. P Tayler advised he would bring back to the next meeting a draft code of conduct and a draft budget.”
The minutes of a special meeting of the Woodville Vision executive committee, held the previous month (October 2021), throw a bit more light on the background politics. They record that the meeting had been called because of two formal complaints, including one from Annette Nepe, against one of “the Team” – namely Jane Hill, who was described as a member of the WDV Society and of the executive committee.
Both complaints concerned Ms Hill’s response to Ms Nepe’s request for the publication of an article that included a Maori greeting. The minutes record: “The Chair noted the comments Annette had shared with her. She also advised her that we, as a Society would follow due process and that we were highly disappointed in the views Jane had shared. The Chair expressed that these were not the view of the WDV Executive Team. The Team discussed Jane’s role in the Woodville Wire, and that at this point in time, it is still technically separate from WDV, however the perception in the community is that it isn’t. WDV support it, along with the Council, however it is run by a volunteer separately. The Team confirmed their disappointment and sadness in the response from Jane and the harm done to the Society’s reputation. After thorough discussions, V Tomlinson [the chair] moved that the Executive Team invoke clause 6.3 (Any member whose conduct is likely to endanger the good order, reputation or welfare of the Society may be expelled from the Society by a special meeting of the Executive Committee) and expel Jane Hill from WDV Society and WDV Executive Committee.”
So there you are. The Woodville Wire appeared to be independent of Woodville Districts Vision, or whatever it calls itself now, but that didn’t stop the executive committee from expelling Ms Hill regardless. She appears to have been thrown under the bus – sorry, kicked off “the Team” – for expressing a sincerely held opinion that her fellow team members clearly thought beyond the pale. Whether the council had anything to do with her fate (as AprilGuy speculates) isn’t clear, though it does seem the Woodville Wire received council support.
It is, as I said, a murky picture and not a pretty one. Anyone who can further clarify matters is welcome to do so.
Hi, a visit to the Incorporated Societies Register turns up an entry for a WOODVILLE COMMUNITY COMMITTEE INCORPORATED (565363) that formally had had been WOODVILLE DISTRICTS VISION INCORPORATED until May 2022. There was a bit of an empty out of officers Aug-Oct 2022 including HAGLUND, TAYLOR and TOMLINSON mentioned in Karl's latest comment. HILL is shown as departing Oct 2021 as per the minutes.
The accounts for FY ending June 22 show the main funder as Tararua DC $41k out of $52k total in the trading account. The first objective in the new constitution is to fulfill its obligations to TDC as set out in their "Agreement for delivery of community services". I note Councillors seem to attend the meetings. Take from all that what you will.
The only apparent link to Hill or the Woodville Wire is $450 to Hill that is reimbursements for "Representative Cost".
If you wonder why people get triggered by te reo ("the normalisation of") there's a theory from evolutionary psychology and it is borne out empirically.
It is postulated that we needed an alarm button when faced with threat (groups of humans being our alpha predators) and that trigger mechanism is the violation of social norms by an out-group.
Tararua District, Manawatu-Whanganui Region, with strong ties to Hawkes Bay, of which it was once part. Wikipedia.
John Hurley: perhaps, but in my case it was triggered 30+ years ago at the library in Wellington when I saw signs in Maori telling me where books in English were. It was PC bull and a waste of money. Cluttering up a communication to an English reader, as is currently the case in letters from government departments, is dopey - what on earth is the point, apart from being woke? And having someone give a speech partly in Maori with no translation or explanation is offensive.
I have again read through this thought-provoking piece. I sense a general feeling of genuine anxiousness about what has happened to the overall relationship between our two races and their two languages since the1950s - when Karl was born. As it happened, I arrived in the country as an immigrant in 1958, then aged 23. Am I perhaps more able to view all this with more objectivity?
The 1950s was when Maori began to move into the cities in large numbers. Since colonisation began they largely stayed in their own settlements, safely under the control of their Maori elders in their own strong culture on their own land, which Maori tribes had owned as of right since the Treaty of Waitangi (Michael King emphasises this in his great History Book). One of the un-challengeable “prevailing orthodoxies” (Karl’s words) is that colonisation is the reason for the fact that over 60% of our prisoners are Maori, while only 15% of our population are Maori. But prior to the 1950s – there were no more Maori criminals than of any other race in New Zealand! This of course completely disproves that “prevailing orthodoxy”! Does it not?
And in the 1950s I noticed an overall enthusiasm for using Maori words for naming new streets, new buildings, etc. For example, in the 1950s Seacliff Hospital in Otago built a hospital ward for children – and named it “Tamariki”. All New Zealanders loved our unique, poetic, beautiful Maori language (and admired the Maori race). They all knew the language would not survive for many more years – none of the many thousands of smaller indigenous languages and distinct dialects in the world colonised by Europeans over the last 600 years ever survived. But of course there was no attempt ever to replace English for the tens of thousands existing concepts, items or phenomena. The function of a language is the conveyance of ideas and thoughts in the simplest way possible – compulsorily having two languages for anything can only cause confusion, of course.
For Karl’s generation the ground seems to have shifted under their feet – and for good reason : Exactly why are are our two races now so much more more divided? Among older New Zealanders I now see real anxiety about what the future has in store about our two people – and our two languages. Will authoritative ideology have the last word – or will it not? Can this process be reversed – or can it not?
I believe it is crucial that we debate this problem – free speech is basic to solving this problem. “Prevailing orthodoxies” must be openly challenged (on blogs such as Karl’s).
Two years ago the Tararua District Council were using some stylized graphic art to promote our District in what they considered to be from a colourful and positive perspective.
From Eketahuna in the South to Norsewood in the North all the contributions of colonial settlement were highlighted in an amusing and entertaining way.
Apart from some hieroglyphs on the border of the colourful poster, there was nothing to suggest tanga te whenua even existed in our district.
I was having a quiet day, so I wrote a chatty letter to the Editor of the local paper the Bush Telegraph pointing out this discrepancy and I suggested I might write to the HRC for an opinion.
The editor in his wisdom declined to publish my offering as was his right. About a month later I bumped into Steve (the Editor) down town and he asked me how I had got on with the HRC? "I'm still waiting for a reply" I said.
5 months later I got a response from the HRC along with apologises for the delay. I got the impression they had been busy with important stuff and it wasn't mine.
Their reply suggested they had no concerns with the issues I had raised and if the matter still bothered me I should write to the council.
After 6 months I had lost interest in that crusade and thought to myself if the HRC weren't interested, why should I bother and I went looking for a new hobby to occupy my time.
Its cold here today, my minds numb. A copy of the print in question.
Very well put Andy Espersen.
Repression of normal behaviour in any form is distasteful to me regardless of the reason behind that repression.
Freedom of thought and speech that does not intentionally seek to create harm to others is a basic tenet of our society and any ideology that seeks to repress that must be called out and clearly targeted.
Yes, the ground is shifting and it always will but when it is shifted/tilted by a minority that is wrong.
What is happening in New Zealand today is wrong. Not just the "things" that are being promulgated but the entire "attitude" that is becoming mandatory to avoid the wrath of a few petty officials. It must change and hopefully we do not have to wait until an election to do that. No government can continue without the mandate of the people and this government has no such mandate. In my opinion.
I'd known about this story, and it bothers me. The more I reflect upon it, the more it bothers me. It exemplifies the extent to which we've lost free speech rights in NZ.
And along with that, the extent to which a normative approach to the Maori language has become commonplace, even if not necessarily fully accepted.
When I was at university, I studied (among other things) philosophy. I remember David Hume's fact:value gap. He was, I think, the first to articulate that there is a logical disjunct between facts and values. It's impossible to derive an "ought" from an "is". Languages are a fact of life. But it doesn't at all follow that we must therefore value them, or that they ought to survive.
However. With regard to Maori language, all citizens are expected to place the same value upon it as do Maori themselves. While many non-Maori doubtless do regard it as a treasure, that won't be true of everyone. And proper free speech rights would guarantee being able to say so, without facing consequences of the sort visited upon the unfortunate Jane Hill.
I note this from the editor's e-mail:
"...because they (falsely) claim first nation status." It isn't clear whether she believes the myth of the Moriori, or whether she takes exception for political reasons to any claims by Maori of first nation status. But either way, and if we really did still have free speech, she'd be within her rights to think and say this. It would be irrelevant what the rest of us thought. We could disagree. Or not.
I come back to the concept of "inclusivity".
The present view is that inclusivity means, and can only mean, that Te Reo must be present.
No one has asked the question about whether the use of Te Reo EXCLUDES people (depending on the context).
It's worth a challenge at some point, but certainly being faces with all the apparatus of the state must be frightening
Post a Comment