Hamish McKenzie - conduit, London, Ontario

Friday, September 02, 2005

I received this in my email inbox today. I'm sure its author won't mind me posting it here.


Dear Dr Brash,

I am a Maori woman and I am really concerned that I may not qualify for 'mainstream' membership. I honestly don't think that I can be like you -- pale and male -- but I could be suffering from an inferiority complex, an inferior education, or an inferior mirror.

Could you please send out an application form that outlines the key criteria necessary for eligibility? At this point in time there has been much innuendo about the topic, but you and your deputy seem to possess the specifics.

Perhaps there is some information, research and data that I can access from within your policy? Please be assured that I can read English.

Within reason, I am willing to pay a membership fee. I know many New Zealanders will automatically qualify under your 'naturalised' mainstream scheme, but I am hopeful there are places available for suitable, indigenous, female, brown applicants. I have no criminal record, if that helps.

I do have a number of queries that I would like to have clarified please. I'll keep the list short:

1. How long does membership last for?

2. Should I qualify, will I be given some proof to legitimise my mainstream status? A swipe card perhaps? (I am all too aware that, without it, I will be mistaken for a non-mainstreamer).

3. I am willing to forgo the rights and privileges that I was eligible for as a non- mainstream member. I will attempt to cope without racists and Maori-bashing remarks, but I may miss the adrenalin rush initially.

4. This may sound naive, but will membership make me rich? I have noted that the handouts from many 'Treaty settlements' have been well and truly 'absorbed' by mainstream judges and lawyers, mainstream accountants, mainstream banks and mainstream everybody else. A most 'cunning move' by mainstreamers to recoup the cost of settlement. I want cunning.

5. Another naive question: In your quest to eliminate segregation, would all income-generating tourist or business operators who use any aspect of Maori culture be closed because of race-based activities?

Personally, I will miss Rotorua as I know it now (but won't your government miss out on all that tourist tax revenue?). Te Papa will have to have a name change! Can't have segregated Maori names! A quaint mainstream translation to "The Wood" should suffice. Now that's a nice bland mainstream word. Tourists should find it unrivetting -- and you like bland and unrivetting.

On second thoughts, please disregard this application. I have just come to my senses. I actually like being a Maori! I didn’t ask to be a Maori at birth, I was chosen and blessed to be one, and any politician who believes that I should become 'like' him as 'one' (his one) is deluded.

Instead, I will send off an application form to you, Dr Brash, for non-mainstream membership. Only one criterion needs to be met: applicants need to be rational.

A big ask, but not unsurmountable.

Naku noa,
A Hoha Hine.