The best apology of the year award ...

The best apology of the year award just has to go to Mr. Harawira – you have to hand it to him he has got flair. In the same kind of way a grenade might have I guess. Rodney Hide’s apology was about as exciting as watching a puppy wet himself whereas Mr. Harawira’s had everyone, most especially Mr. Goff running for cover.

An apology that goes along the lines of ‘yes – I may have been slightly exuberant in my choice of pronouns but what I really regret is that the leader of the opposition wasn’t shot when he agreed to the Foreshore deal’ is pure Hone and I have to admit I found it hilarious. I would love to be able to give an apology like that one day. I know. If it were the national front saying the same kind of thing against another race I would have read the sentiments entirely differently and be wading in boots and all – but the thing is, I just can’t get that excited about it. In the miniscule town where I grew up – if you wanted to play social sport you had to join the kapahaka group and spend an hour doing some cultural studies before a game of netball. It was the mid eighties and some of the speakers at those groups were fairly radical. A lot of it sounded a lot like Mr. Harawira’s email – being about 14 at the time most of it sailed in one ear and straight out the other - which in a way has pretty much been our recent history – one group shouting and the other humming loudly lost in the bliss of being the status quo. On the one occasion I was actually feeling uncomfortable about being there I remember putting up my hand and saying ‘aah… I’m pakeha… and umm… I’m actually only here for the netball and lollies.’ I wasn’t trying to be funny. It was just part of the wallpaper of growing up in that place in those times. It’s not like Hone was saying anything different from what he has been saying for the last 20 years – he would have imbibed that rhetoric with his mother’s milk and his particular way of expressing himself has always just been the rough cutting edge of a larger more studied and more measured movement. It’s not after all, as Tariana Turia so gently and elegantly put it ‘that there is not a history there.’

Watching Hone’s war canoe paddle out in full steam is always going to be a great show – especially when he started tossing that enormous red race herring over the side when someone suggested he should have shown up for work instead of taking the missus for a spin in the City of Lerv. It was even sadder to watch the media scramble after that red herring and how quickly it became a conversation of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ which is always the death of any real conversation at all. And it was just a red herring, the real issue being; MP’s travel perks and the use or abuse thereof. I’d like to be able to tell my bosses that I hadn’t turned up to work today because my ancestors were killed in Auschwitz or had their land confiscated in Scotland. Fat chance.

Last week’s media furore over Hone Hawira’s outburst exposed a sensitive nerve in New Zealand’s psyche without doing anything to address either the ride we’re all being taken for when MP’s take their girlfriends beach hopping at our expense or the issue of the increasing poverty gap in New Zealand where young Maori are often at the bottom of the economic and educational heap.

None of my newly immigrated friends took any interest in the media mud-wrestling over Hone’s comments. If you’ve been to any graduation ceremonies recently you might see why. Look at all the honours degrees in engineering, medicine, sciences, architecture and design. Listen for the names and you’ll see that while Maori/Pakeha relations are still not able to get it together to address the problems we face, the newest arrivals are slowly and steadily working at simply getting ahead.

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