Hobson’s choice

Photo credit: Newshub

Why is it that, in a country that does multiculturalism as well as New Zealand, Don Brash is continually branded as a racist? Why is it that when all he asks is that we are all treated as one people, he is branded as a racist? Where exactly is the racism in that?

There is none. Don Brash wants to bring an end to the favouring of Maori when it comes to splashing government money around (as we have seen in the last few days) because it fosters a prolonged sense of entitlement, and the positive discrimination it engenders has never done anyone any good. Many Maori feel aggrieved because they are being left behind by the rest of the country, and they think that more government money will fix it. It won’t.

I came here in the 1980s, around the time that the settlements started and, even though my ancestors had never lived here, I felt it was a fair allocation of taxpayer’s money to try to address the wrongs of history. I never imagined that, over 30 years later, the settlements would still be going on, and that the grievance train would become longer and more bloated than it ever was back then.

Our indigenous people, who have been very well treated compared to many other indigenous people around the world, are still feeling aggrieved, and still feeling that the government owes them more. Their children have no future. They have no jobs. They are living in poverty. If they cannot see that the way out of their children’s despair is to encourage them to take advantage of the free education system that every New Zealand child is given, where is the hope for any of them? The solutions are all there. They just have to learn how to use them.

I feel, though that the attitude towards Maori being somewhat disadvantaged is becoming entrenched in our society, and that is a terrible shame. Maori are not some special needs group. They are a race of their own with their own history and culture and they are entitled to preserve and maintain it.

Brash is right about RNZ’s attitude to Te Reo. Using the language more and more is not being culturally sensitive. It is saying that Maori cannot preserve their language themselves, so we have to do it for them. Let us take that one step further and say that Maori cannot preserve their language themselves and so white people will have to do it for them. That is what RNZ is doing and it is patronising in the extreme.

(On the subject of RNZ, it really cracks me up when the female newsreaders say one particular Maori phrase. To me, it sounds like “Call Katrina Batten a ho.” I have listened to it over and over, and I think that some Maori somewhere must have been having a laugh at our expense. Maybe Billy T James has not left the building after all.)

This attitude is present everywhere. Enjoying coffee amongst a group of friends – all white, middle class ladies over 50 – two of them proudly told the group that they were going to learn Maori this year. When I said I had no interest in learning it, I was given incredulous looks and tut-tutted with quiet disapproval. Since when did Te Reo become compulsory for all? Now helping the poor Maori who cannot help themselves has become fashionable in the leafy suburbs, and this is extremely patronising too.

I do not pretend to know the answers, but throwing more government money at the problem is not going to fix it. When Brash pointed out that the funds that have gone into settlements would give each Maori $333 in their back pocket, I was stunned. This means that the amounts being splashed around this time will go absolutely nowhere. It is pork barrel politics, and it will do nothing to help anyone. Next year, when Jacinda goes up there to give everyone breakfast, (another extremely patronising gesture), she will roll out the same platitudes and nothing will have changed. Einstein was right. It is insane to keep doing the same things over and over and expect a different outcome. The people of New Zealand, and Maori in particular, deserve better than that.