Sunday, September 25, 2005
I do feel a little sorry for him as a person, but some of the qualities that led him to this point are the same ones that would make him a disaster as a Prime Minister.That, I stand by. I happen to think that this result is just the kind of thing MMP should deliver. I think this term will be no rougher than the last. And if I imagine Brash in the position Clark is in now I can only think it really would fall apart.
I have before now professed a distrust of "strong leadership". That doesn't mean I want a political incompetent in charge of my country. Least of all in an MMP parliament.
Is that unfair? Since the man couldn't even keep his caucus lined up during an election campaign, it at least bears thinking on.
Anyhow, the hilarious thing about the SST blogwatch was that while the quote was correctly attributed to Fighting Talk they gave the web address as kearney.blogspot.com. That's - um - not our web address.
A ha ha ha ha.
So one moral in all this is for the benefit of people laying out newspapers: if you use the same template every week, do check that you've actually updated all of the text. I've been there: it can be so embarrassing having the contents pages of your student paper have the same date for four weeks.
Another lesson arises from this chance this affair gave me to look back on my headline ("Brash Looses Election") from some kind of emotional distance. While it seemed so clear to me on the day that all broke, I clearly still have not fathomed the mind of the National voter. Makes me feel a bit like all those bloggers, the ones who were so sure - for months - that the Nats would romp home, must be feeling right about now.
Moral two: don't mistake helpful events or wishful thoughts for hatched chickens.
So I won't rake over the results until the specials are counted. But I did want to drop some words about some of the claims that're going about. One example will hopefully serve:
THE RIGHT WON THE POPULAR VOTE
Bollocks they did. Shift to the Right overall - yes. A parliamentary majority will have ample opportunities to piss off lefties in the coming term.
Making that claim requires one to ignore the way that NZ First and United Future repeat myself - are in the middle. They might go about it in a messed-up way, but they are.
The actual MPs from United Future do tend to show a degree of laissez-faire economics and moral conservatism that puts National to shame (maybe because the Nat's economic policies have to seem vaguely sensible). But Peter Dunne's whole schtick has been to position his party, politically and electorally, in the middle.
Of course, they also claimed to be the party of stable government, and look at the way Peter's behaving now.
But people voted for a party that said it was in the middle, and could support either National or Labour.
And Winston just isn't on the modern Right. You get to Winston's position by starting in the middle and heading for Rob Muldoon. He doesn't match up with anyone.
Again, people voted for a party that could (at least tacitly) go either way. We all though that was just an excuse to go with National, but that's not the way things have turned out. And despite his habit of supporting National and opposing Labour, at least half of his remaining supporters seem to favour Helen.
And Labour got more votes, and - though I suspected he had left himself a touch of wiggle room - Winston is sticking to his word.
That is something that should also be borne in mind when constructing scenarios without the Maori seats, or without the Greens. Labour would still have more votes and probably more seats. Winston would be, as he is now, honour-bound to support Labour.
Winston's promise was something that more than one blogger invovled in the management of a National campaign has seemed loath to mention, and/or happy to ignore when building counterfactual governments like those mentioned above.
Really: can we all please stop doing that? It's just silly.
So yes, I conclude that more voters favoured the Labour and effectively the Left. Even if, as Frog had it (site down when I looked), you allow the Right to have United Future. Just.
This is supported by the way that, right up to the election, Helen Clark was ahead as preferred PM. I know there's a boost in those polls from incumbency, by she was getting an outright majority of those who expressed an opinion.
Yet swap round a percentage point in the party votes and Winston would be going with National now. Then the election would have been stolen.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Rape Crisis is outraged at the "Diary of a Drug Rapist" article I linked to yesterday. The campus cop (accurately) called it "hard-core" and (inaccurately) suggested it degraded women and gave clear instructions of how to drug and rape someone.
If anything, Rape Crisis and the campus cop should be thanking Critic for the story.
"Diary of a Drug Rapist" has packaged the grisly details of drug rape into a readable, entertaining, and, most importantly, provocative piece that people can actually learn from. It is by far the most effective communication of the dangers of drug rape I have read.
Really, the fictional account is a compendium of everything a potential victim needs to know about such a heinous crime. It is one example of journalism that treats the subject with the gravity it deserves. Rape Crisis and the police, with all their resources and campaigning on this problem, haven't even come close to getting the message across so effectively.
With one foul swoop (terribly weak pun intended) Critic has (at least for a little while, perhaps) stimulated debate at the national level. It made the Herald, it made National Radio, it's going to be on TV3, and probably more. That means the story was a success. That means the message will get across.
Well done Critic.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
I don't know if you've come across it yet, but this Internet thing really has some amazing stuff.
For instance, check out this searing protest song by Texan hip-hoppers K-Otix, who damn the President of the United States of America George W. Bush for his not liking black people. You know it's true because it's laid over a Kanye West track.
In the magazine-formerly-known-as-the-magazine-I-used-to-edit this week there's a fascinating, and surely rare, interview with Max Hardcore, one of the porn industry's most hated and successful slimes. A warning though: this story, while morbidly fascinating, is grossly offensive. I don't suggest anyone read it, including you, grandma. Actually, Dad, you probably shouldn't read it either.
Critic also carries a naughtily provocative piece called "Diary of a Drug Rapist". It's worse than it sounds, but it's also the most effective drug-rape education piece I've read (and trust me, as a former student journalist, I've been subjected to a few). Grandma, don't read this one either.
Yes Holly, that's twice I've linked to Critic. Better update your weblog now. And don't just post outdated photos. Unless they have me in them. Then I could send them to my grandma. Nooch!
To everyone who's reading: Click here, select "the whole enchilada," and witness my current favourite band and hear songs from their great newish album, Twin Cinema. It will make you more popular with your friends.
Hang on, I haven't talked about politics yet -- what kind of a self-important blogger do I think I am?
Well, I was watching the Canadian media carefully over the weekend for any mention of the New Zealand election. Unfortunately, we barely rated a mention. Seemingly, we're less important than Germans and Afghans. Nice to get some perspective after getting caught up in all the spin and heat of our country-hick election. We didn't even make the BBC World half-hour bulletin (the CBC has locked out its staff at the moment, so they're aren't on air), or the Globe and Mail (well, except for one Chris Laidlaw op-ed a couple of days before polling). We did, however, make my local rag, although that's probably only because it relies on wire copy, and most of its readers wouldn't know where Afghanistan is, let alone Germany.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Labour: Lost Tamihere and, along with him, a great deal of liability. Came out in the best position to form a government. Down two seats from 2002 [thanks to Graeme Edgeler for reminding me of Tariana's defection]. Not a bad showing, but it could have been so much more. That one seat difference between Labour and National means New Zealand will head down a significantly different path. Maori won't be disenfranchised; the principles of the Treaty will be preserved; and perhaps a race relations crisis has been averted. Let's not play about -- that was the major issue of this election. Promised tax cuts helped National hold its core support and win a few more thrifty types, but it was the anti-Treaty policy and "no more special treatment for Maori" rhetoric that really won the voters. That's what put them in the position to challenge Labour in the first place, and that's what catapulted them into a lead in the polls in the last couple of weeks before the election.
National: All things considered, it's been rampantly successful for National. They'll be disappointed they didn't win the most seats, but they came damn close. Very well positioned to pounce on a government that could well crumble in the tough times ahead. Will form a lively and imposing opposition. They bring with them a whole host of new talent, with many potential leaders in their mix, in contrast to Labour, who are lacking on popular and competent figures beyond Clark and Cullen.
NZ First: Winston lost in Tauranga, which has to be a blow to his ego, but his party lives on. Somehow. Winston is the Parliament jester and will always be entertaining -- it would almost have been sad to see him go. NZ First is now in a considerable position of power, even though it brings fewer MPs into the next term. Aside from the initial deal-making stages with Labour (or, a remote possibility, National), Winston's behaviour could well determine whether or not this next government will be a successful one.
Greens: Deserved to do better. Suffered from the two major parties managing to focus this election on tax and race relations, when really this country -- the world, in fact -- needs to be thinking about energy and environment. Sadly, no-one really wanted to talk about that, so the Greens were left to scrap around for attention-grabbers like the Zimbabwe tour, and, perversely helpful for them, the Brethrens smear pamphlets, which kept them in the news. Yeah, you can tell who I voted for, but I don't care. The Greens are going to become a more and more important party as the realities of energy shortages and continued climate change inevitably affect the way we live. And wouldn't it be sad to see Nandor go? Maybe he could play with old-buddy and fellow oustee Craig McNair. Still, those specials could change things significantly for the Greens.
Maori Party: Undisputed winners on the night. Pita Sharples will be a colourful and, I think, valuable addition to Parliament. Hone Harawira will be a shit-stirrer like we've never seen before. Keep your eyes on him -- he will be a very interesting MP to observe. Few have said nice things about the Maori Party, but I'm actually sanguine about their prospects. At least now there's a party that will make sure Maori interests are properly represented. They will bring new perspective to Parliament -- let's just hope it doesn't get ridiculed out of significance.
United Future: Three MPs, on the basis of Peter Dunne routinely winning his obscure seat. Can anyone explain to me why this party deserves to be in such a position of power? And then Dunne has the audacity to insist he will never sit around a Cabinet table with the Greens. Well, Mr. Dunne, the Greens won about 50,000 more votes than your party, so I suggest you leave your inflated arrogance behind.
ACT: I'm happy to see ACT represented in Parliament. Rodney Hide is proving to be every bit the chameleon and entertainer as Winston is.
Jim Anderton's Progressives: Not really much of a party, is it. A one-man-band. Why doesn't he just re-join the Labour orchestra? A bit of a shame to see Matt Robson go, but after his drinking age bill, I can't say I'm too disappointed.
Friday, September 16, 2005
The finale in Fighting Talk's authoritative voting guide series.
1. You don't want to make a testicle of yourself.
2. Because if you don't vote for Labour, you will have to answer to David "Mad Dog" Benson-Pope and Pete "Scarface" Hodgson.
3. Because they're going to abolish parole, and I guess keep the extra prisoners in cells that they (the prisoners) build themselves, out of, I don't know, balsa wood or something, because there sure as hell isn't enough money for it in National's budget.
4. Or maybe they're going to impose market rents on prison cells.
5. Because if Don Brash becomes Prime Minister, they might not replace him with John Key at all, which would be a tragedy for the National Party.
6. Because if you do, National might win the election. And then Don Brash would be trying to run the country, and Gerry Brownlee would be trying to run Parliament. Think about it. That's not governent, that's the premise of a sitcom.
7. You're Maori.
8. Because countries don't normally change their leader in the middle of a war. Admittedly, we're not at war, but we would be if Don Brash had been Prime Minister.
9. Because you've decided to go with Winston, who will unconditionally support whichever main party gets the most votes on supply and confidence. You could of course actually vote for the party you want to lead the next government instead, but you are a natural gambler.
10. When even a "National Party source" is "concerned at Don Brash's links to big business", this is of concern.
11. Because you have followed the political side of their campaign, and suffer from the old-fashion belief that potential governments should stay together at the seams.
12. Because they like it up the bum. Don't believe us? Well, explain this: National is an anagram of into anal.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Click for big version. Apologies if it's been done.
Stop me if you've been down this track, but it only occured to me the other day.
Consider, if there is such a thing, the typical poll. Of current parliamentary parties, we might have: on the right ACT and National, on the left Labour and the Progressives and the Greens, and in the middle (in terms of supporting a potential government) United Future, New Zealand First and, arguably, the Maori Party.
Award each side half the vote of the parties in the middle, you get a Left/Right map of the electorate, yes?
Left wins. Swing to the right since last time, but last time was very bad for the Right.
Obviously, the world is not like this. For one thing, much of the 'middle' seems to have a natural home one the Right, but that's not really my point.
How in the name of anything did this election turn into a two-horse race?
I'm not going to blame the media for trumpeting the top two party vote figures on every new pole. Though they are getting hopelessly keen on this and it does not help. I should say I've done this myself.
I'm not even going to blame National for, having been handed ACT, trying to devour the rest of the opposition. For all that they've long been accused of trying to turn this into a First Past the Post election, it's not their fault they're as close as they are to pulling it off.
I blame the Peter Dunne and Winston Peters, for predicating their support on which party gets the most seats.
And that's what their policies mean. United Future says it's 'first negotiation', but they could almost certainly make a deal with whoever they negotiated with first. Even Labour.
Winston say it's abstain on supply and confidence or vote for if necessary. He would always have to vote for, unless a main Party (most likely candidate for this is Labour) could form a majority coalition without him.
This approach is undemocratic in that Peters and Dunne have chosen an arbitrary standard that may well not reflect the will of the people as a whole. But it is at least democratic in that they have told us in advance.
This ridiculous attitude means the surest way to success for a main party is to devour its supporters. And there's been no 'party vote Labour to keep the government' campaign. Well, I've seen signs of one, but it's not very concerted.
Whichever way it all goes, someone will probably feel cheated. But don't say you weren't warned.
This making you think about shifting from Labour to the Greens?
My incompletely calculated advice is to vote for a party you like. If, for example, 'tactical' shifting leaves the Greens on 4.9 per cent, Labour could easily be worse of than if National beats them on the party vote. Do the maths yourself, if you like. I say, let the people decide, and show Winston and Peter what for.
Just don't party vote Maori.
And all those right-wingers out there: Rodney is so gonna win Epsom. Vote ACT. Put National in its place.
New Hood: Under Bee Hive (without apologies to Dylan Thomas)
Have a good time at the polls, y'all.
Silent on the treasury costings?
Of course I'm silent on the treasury costings.
We've already had this argument. I have yet to hear any compelling reason to think that loan uptake will blow out under Labour's policy given that they haven't already and loans are currently interest-free while studying. There are rules about drawing down the money. For the vast bulk of the student population, trying to game the system just isn't worth the trouble.
And once Key and Cullen start having and argument, you may as well say goodbye to any public interest in the details.
The excuses, some of them quite good, that Cullen is providing now for the costings and for the not releasing of them, are exactly what he said when the subject first came up. It would have been simpler to release them when they were asked for anyway, but there you are.
So yeah, until we see the costing for a single, solitary National policy, or vaguely credible estimates, or even any policy (excluding tax) that exists with sufficient detail, mutually agreed by all spokespeople, that it actually could be costed in the first place, I'm not saying anything about the treasury costings.
The penultimate post in a multi-part series.
1. Labour sounds too much like hard work.
2. Because you're gonna drive with such scrupulous obedience to the road rules that you won't make it to the ballot box on time.
3. You prefer National's policies, on account of how you get off on the idea of holding reviews.
4. Because Helen Clark personally lifted all those emails out of Don's in-tray, made one copy of each, returned them -- all in the blink of an eye -- then leaked them. This may seem unlikely, but think about it: that woman can move pretty fast.
5. Because you think that, rather than physically restraining Madeleine Flannagan, Pete Hodgson should have punched her in the face. That doesn't really makes sense, but we feel a lot better for saying it.
6. You have decided to go with the party whose campaign uses the most recognisable photo of Helen Clark.
7. Because you think Don Brash will be a really good Prime Minister. No, seriously -- some people think that.
8. Because the Prime Minister's speed, attitude towards airline pilots, and teeth are issues that are important to you.
9. Because God wants the shackles of employment relations law removed from His businesses.
10. Their continued association with Jim Anderton.
11. Because you're convinced Trevor Mallard is somehow in the wrong party.
12. Because their leader isn't physically attractive. Vote Destiny.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I'm on the plane. I'm gone, out of New Zealand without even a post about the stresses of reducing one's life in order to fit it into a couple of travel bags (mind you, when entering the USA you are allowed up to 64 kilos of baggage. 64 KILOS! Is that ridiculous? I think so). My eyeballs are so dry right now. My teeth are as dirty as you'd imagine. I'm trying to retain my sense of private space whilst on this flying people-mover. Headphones on, hood up, laptop out, a pool of digital light in the dark of the cabin. It's 10:30pm in New Zealand, 3:50am in LA. I am a time traveler.
Of course, I intended to make friends on the plane, to enjoy the journey (apparently it isthe destination) and forgo in-flight alcohol. I could feel my plans become thwarted even before boarding, when the departure lounge filled with ancient Floridians on a package tour (I looked at their name badges) and the flight was delayed due to a burst pipe in one of the toilets. Nevermind. Air travel may be a luxury, but it's still an ordeal. I should do some leg exercises. I don't want to be getting deep vein thrombosis.
So, how about that election then ay?
And now that I'm in a warmer climate, I'm still finding it ridiculously hard to care about the election. Anyway, I've already voted.
In other news - Americans are funny.
Friday, September 09, 2005
1. Winston Peters
2. Winston Peters
3. Winston Peters... has said he won't go into a coalition with either major party and will instead sit on the cross benches. Clearly this a complete abdication of self-interest seeing as it is likely to: a) dethrone him as King-maker; b) threaten his 5% threshold; c) jeopardise his hair-fund; and d) mean he can't become new bestest-best friends with the charming Peter Dunne.
4. Ron Mark. Ha! You thuoght we were going to say Winston Peters again, didn't you?
5. Winston Peters
6. Giving Winston Peters any sort of power would heighten the likelihood of terrorist attacks from legitimate, docile Iraqi refugees.
7. Brent Catchpole. Ha ha ha ha! Just kidding. We meant Winston Peters.
8. This guy.
9. Brian Donnelly
10. Peter Brown
11. Craig McNair. Seriously. Actually, no, not seriously. We meant your grandmother.
12. Winston 'You can't resist my smouldering eyes and podium-perfect hair' Peters.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
I won' t pretend I'm not pleased about this. Or gobsmacked.
But it's not a total surprise in that this kind of screwup is typical of the slipshod way National's campaign has been conducted to date.
I mean, Hodgson screwed up, and the costings of the loan write-off could embarrass Labour, but Brash is screwed.
As if having friends like the Brethren wasn't bad enough.
One of the main things he had over Clark was his personal credibility - odd in a man who changed all his opinions on assuming control of the National Party, but there it is.
And now it's gone.
Why? Let's work it though.
When he spoke to Paul Holmes, he said he didn't know who was putting out the nasty pamphlets. Strictly speaking, this could well be true. It's not as if the fact that he knew the Brethren were planning some pamphlet campaign or other was sufficient proof to go public with.
In retrospect, this is merely unfortunate.
Then, after the origin of the campaign was revealed, he walked out on the press rather than talk about it.
He could have come clean and explained his position then, and quite possibly not lost anything by it. Not doing so was something of a moral failing we might charitably suggest was brought on by too much political coaching. But not enough to do the political thing and just lie.
Instead, he looks evasive.
And Gerry Brownlee continued to tell anyone who will listen that National knew nothing.
Then, in a fantastic interview by bFM's Noelle McCarthy (audio), Brash just admits it. He knew in advance that the Brethren were planning a pamphlet campaign.
After that, again talking to the press, he was unable or unwilling to explain why he didn't come clean earlier.
Now he has a explanation, if only in relation to the Holmes quote, and it's a bit late for it to wash.
I do feel a little sorry for him as a person, but some of the qualities that led him to this point are the same ones that would make him a disaster as a Prime Minister.
I have before now professed a distrust of "strong leadership". That doesn't mean I want a political incompetent in charge of my country. Least of all in an MMP parliament.
The debate should be good viewing.
And the pamphlet campaign, it seems, will still go ahead.
Anybody thinking of punting for Labour on Centerbet should probably take whatever odds they're offering now.
As I say, credit to Noelle M for the interview (and Russell B for noting the critical fact).
Of course, you might prefer to hear a interview where the politician is given all the slack he could ask for; my interview with Rod Donald should be up on Scoop sometime soon.
Or to you might want to read a short news article based on exactly one fact.
Or a New, Brief Hood: Suggested Excuses for the use of Dr Donald Brash in this Evening's Televised Leaders Debate.
Am I alone in thinking Winston Peters has acted admirably with his decision not to support either major party in a coalition?
Peters, it seems, is willing to put aside promises of a lofty position in Cabinet, willing to put aside his potential role as 'King-maker' (which Peter Dunne has delightedly tried to install himself as), and willing to put aside the playing off of National against Labour for self-gain.
Instead he wants NZ First to sit on the cross-benches. This sounds like someone who understands MMP. I might even go so far to say that it sounds like someone acting in the best interests of democracy.
Monday, September 05, 2005
It took this to make me realise how viscerally I don't want National to win this election.
I didn't spend this last term hating National's tone and the bulk of their actual constructive suggestions to have them become the Government now.
Especially since they have, by my count, maybe five policies.
1) Tax cuts.
2) Let's pretend everyone is white.
And, where a is a variable indicating some particular policy area:
3) We have announced a clear plan regarding a (although at least to other plans that may or may not be similar have been announced around the same time), and our budget allows us to spend not more than half of what you might reasonably expect it will cost.And then we'll throw in some extra as well, like more police with extra law and order spending that was earmarked for the abolition of parole and wasn't enough even then.
4) We assert that the current government has done badly as regards a. We will hold an enquiry after the election.
I suppose it's quite reasonable to sound middle-of-the-road of you don't actually say what you are going to do.
Which isn't to say Labour hasn't been releasing a whole lot of late policy this last week or so. But it's generally been, 'we will do much the same, only a bit more so'. National has gotten deeply into the habit of disavowing anything its ministers might have said before last month, so theirs tend to be shorter on detail and bigger on surprises.
Combine this with the general chaos surrounding policy announcements, and I have to do some serious mental squinting to work out how such a noticeable number of people seem to think Brash is doing a good job.
Of course, it's possible they're just bored of Labour.
Anyhow, if people are going for that shit, it's difficult to know how to respond. Which brings me to ...
National's Service Cuts
Or, since National're obviously in no hurry to say what they are - though they sometimes respond to direct questions about, say, DOC - perhaps 'National's Shadowy Service Cuts'. Something sinister like that.
How about we all call them that from now on? Keep away from the T**-word. The right-wing bloggers can stay on-message, so why can't we? Be like them! Don't let a conscience and a sense of perspective get in the way of victory!
Cullen came out swinging on this one today, summarising a lot of people's vague and/or concrete suspicions. I imagine that people have given up on the generals of the tax debate and vote for their wallet, but you never know. Every little bit helps.
And when I say 'vote for their wallet', that is of course excluding and extra costs of services or lack of pay rises that might ensue.
Cullen's stuff here and here (powerpoint). Evaluate it if you dare. I'm keen to see Key's response, if only to find out if he just says "oh not it isn't" like he did with transport.
We're talking several of billions. Wasteful spending wasteful schmending.
Other Campaign News
Kanye West, everybody's favourite animal-suit-wearing, Common-producing, Time-magazine-cover-boy stirred up a storm at the recent televised Red Cross appeal for Hurricane Katrina victims. While Mike Myers and other do-gooder celebrities dutifully recited their lines, Kanye ignored the teleprompter and fired off an angry, Bush-baiting rant (which you can watch here).
With this outburst, Kanye joins the lofty ranks of Famous People Using Big Televised Events to Air their Political Views. Others include Michael Moore during his Oscar acceptance speech, Jarvis Cocker waggling his arse at Michael Jackson during the Brit Awards that one time, and Janet Jackson showing everyone her nipple during the Superbowl. Ok, maybe the nipple doesn't count.
Predictably, Kanye's outburst has already been decried as stupid and selfish (or at least inappropriate), but I, for one, think that it was pretty awesome. Live television is usually so banal and formally predictable that moments like this, which manage to break so many unspoken rules of conduct while also making a political point, deserve a fist pump in the air and a celebratory "Whooh!".
Sunday, September 04, 2005
New Hood: Roger Kerr Seeks A Refund On A Faulty Tool
Saturday, September 03, 2005
- Has killed as many as 10,000 people.
- Survivors in New Orleans are faced with threats from complete social breakdown, disease, and terrible squalor.
- One million people could be left homeless.
- Residents may not be able to return to their homes for months.
- 80 percent of New Orleans is underwater.
- Who knows how long it will take to restore order, peace, the city?
President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina:
- Sit it out at his Texas ranch.
- Allow two days to elapse.
- Take a 25-minute fly-over in Air Force One to survey the damage.
- Visit on foot after four days.
- Eventually call in National Guard, supplies for survivors, and aid.
Cost: Yet to be determined.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001:
- Killed about 3,000 people.
- Shook the US's self-confidence.
- Fucked up the US economy for a while.
President Bush's response to September 11:
- War on Afghanistan.
- War on Iraq.
Cost: $190 billion
(Not to mention the human costs in Afghanistan and Iraq. Well, actually, not to mention a hell of a lot of costs.)
The difference between the "threat" of "terrorism" and hurricanes:
- Hurricanes and other natural disasters will definitely come to American soil again. Repeatedly.
Will Bush be plowing $190 billion into fighting that war?
Friday, September 02, 2005
AN APPLICATION FOR MAINSTREAM MEMBERSHIP
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.
A Hoha Hine.