Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Books, Books, Books

My Life, David Lange
Yes, I'm sentimental, and yes, I was child who had little understanding of the Fourth Labour Government. I adored Lange for his ability to speak with cunning and wit, and for what I perceived as a staunch and uncomplicated stand on the nuclear free issue. It is only in the last year or two that I have come to have any understanding of either the FLG or Lange as a man, but it has been hard to avoid the topic since his death. His autobiography concentrated on his youth and upbringing, his travels and adventures in, and disillusionment with, the law. He seemed to take a great deal more pleasure in his Mangere constituency than he did as PM, but that isn't surprising considering the Rogernomics of the time. The part of the book dedicated to those years is surprisingly light - those looking for salacious gossip, look elsewhere. He placed a great deal of faith in Douglas, and took a long time to shake that off. I was surprised at his reasoning for staying in politics after resigning the leadership - simple economic need. He refused a diplomatic position in India, but could have done so much more - and it is to our shame that we didn't use such a huge personality in so many areas. My favourite Lange lines are to do with food - at a Parliament shindig, a person near him refused the offer of food, saying their body was a temple. Lange piped up, saying "Pass it down - my body is a warehouse!"
Political Animals - Jane Clifton
I really enjoy Jane Clifton's columns, and I was looking forward to her book. Generally speaking, it didn't disappoint, with some very funny pieces of writing, particularly on easy topics like Winston Peters and Ruth Richardson. Bolger came in for a bit of flack as not too bright, and Michael Laws as someone who perpetually blew up any chances he had of promotion.
I was disappointed in the ending, as it descended into a long winded explanation of her fight with the local council over the town belt - so, a disappointing end to a good, rambling yet unstructured yarn through parliamentary experiences.


Oh baby, Oh baby.

I'm back, finally.
Interesting times on the political scene, with the Don's BRT backers falling out of the closet, and with the son of Orewa falling out of the womb.
The Gnats vision of "one nation, one people" reeks of the fish and chip racism of Pauline Hanson. The reiterated Treaty policy reeks of Winston, especially in terms of removing all references to the Treaty from our legislation. Winston tried to push this via a private members bill last year, and failed. However, Brash goes further than NZF. He claimed on National Radio this morning that the Treaty did not give any special rights to Maori as the tangata whenua, and did not denote partnership between Maori and the Crown. He wants to abolish Te Puni Kokiri, Te Mangai Paho, and (just for good measure) the Ministry of Womens Affairs. Putting that last issue aside, I'd like to go back to the issue of partnership. Brash concentrated on the fact that the Treaty gave Maori all the rights and privileges of British citizens, and he uses this as the basis of the 'one people' argument. The last twenty years of academia, both Maori and Pakeha, on the interpretational issues around the Treaty, the legal precedent of the NZ Maori Council case, and screeds of writing on the matter don't seem to be on his horizon: He is appealing, once again, to the 'mainstream', the white middle class who grew up with the ignorance of the Elsdon Best version of history, where the Maori came to New Zealand and ate the Moriori. He speaks to people like my father, who think that a traditional fishing quota should still be caught with a sharpened bone. And he speaks to the people who feel that Maori don't help themselves, who see them as a class of welfare dependants and part of the Treaty gravy train.
In short, he speaks to his own narrow mainstream.
There is an underlying assumption in the Nats policy: that we *want* to be one people. I for one am quite happy as part of a multicultural society with all the cutural and linguistic differences that entails. We are an island; without immigrants many of us would never broaden our minds. And what would we be without the Maori? The mainstream are happy for the All Blacks to have a new haka, incorporating Pacific island influences and a less war-like lyric; but not happy for a powhiri to be performed in schools. They are happy for the tourist attractions in Rotorua to perpetuate Maori culture and dance, because it earns money. If it's done in schools and official occasions, it is seen by some as an embarrassment and a waste of money.
A double standard perpetuates our treatment of Maori culture which is driven by ignorance and racism.
And an end in sight to Treaty claims? Fair enough. But for once, I have to agree with Mr Peters to an extent - it is a gravy train. However, that gravy is not going to the claimants, but to the lawyers. The Crown Forestry Rental Trust, a rather large plot of foresty that funds the legal aid for claims, puts more in the pockets of certain law firms that many other areas of law. The process is incredibly drawn out; not just by the claimants tracking oral history or generations, but by the lawyers filing papers, delaying, and ducking to preserve their income.
If they want to stop the gravy train, crack down on the lawyers, and hire more Tribunal members. That's the only way to wind up the claims.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Diary of a technophobe

Day the First
Jeremy has deleted my blog while trying to help me do something else. A years writing goes into the cyber trash.

Day the Second
Try to reinstate blog. Host won't let me because the name is taken. It is taken by me but that doesn't seem to matter. Many attempts to restart weblog finally succeed, but I have to delete the nine other weblogs on my account that have no template and effectively do not work. Exhausted by effort, leave the rest for another day.

Day the Third
Gareth informs me that he has my entire weblog Somewhere. Fail to understand how he could stash entire deleted weblog anywhere, when he would have time to do it and why on earth he would do it anyway.

Day the Fourth
Launch myself at weblog with new enthusiasm. Template looks unfamiliar, and I can't find the place to put links to other weblogs. As number of attempts grow, template grows out of control. Text of weblog grows to immense size, title is obliterated. The text of links that go nowhere insert themselves into the post.

Consider an IT position with Royal Foundatino for the Blind.

Day the Fifth
Delete blog and start again. Cautiously try to list links, with no success. Forsee an isolated future for the left field. Start thumping computer and cursing.
Damn the technology.
Damn the technology.

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