Saturday, October 29, 2005

Too many ministers spoil the wrath

What do you do when you have been dissed, yet again, by your party?

Of course, you put out a press release!

Despite being a former minister of Maori Affairs (albeit under the guise of NZ First and Mauri Pacific), Tau Henare is only associate Maori affairs spokesman in the new National line-up, with a ranking of 24.

It is a task he shares with Georgina te Heuheu, who is 21 on the pecking order and newcomer Chris Finlayson, who ranks above both of them at 18.

All three of course are under "two fisted" Gerry Brownlee, who retains overall responsibility.

And of course there is another de facto Maori affairs spokesman, Wayne Mapp in his guise as "political correctness eradicator", there to make the world safe again for white men in suits.

Interestingly, National's webite menu includes a link to political correctness eradication, but not to Maori affairs, so we must assume four out of these five spokespeople are acting in a policy vacuum - ie, making it up as they go along.

So Raymond, sorry Tau Henare, decides to back Mapp's campaign, while taking a swipe at his former leader at the same time.

Henare challenged foreign affairs minister Winston Peters to "to support Wayne Mapp's call to eradicate the practice of 'dial a kaumatua'", calling in elders to open foreign posts.

"Such performances pervert the integrity of the culture, particularly in view of Mr Goff's recent comments that karakia are performed merely as promotional gimmicks to attract media attention in foreign countries.

While some kaumatua may willingly hop on the 'plastic tiki tour' abroad, Labour's recent hash of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill back home is proof of the double standards inherent in their politically correct agenda," said Henare, throwing haymakers every which way.

Georgina te Heuheu voiced similar concerns, citing former probation officer Josie Bullock's challenge to the Corrections Department's practice of discharging prisoners with a formal poroporoaki, at which women are required to take a back seat.

"I would imagine Maori might already be thinking that they should withdraw those protocols from those environments which are really not necessarily suited to our protocols, and maybe take those protocols back home to where they belong," said te Heuheu.

Te Heuheu makes a better point than Henare, but it will be lost in the unsubtle campaign being run by Mapp, Henare et al. I think as a society we are still learning how to develop protocols and processes which make all feel comfortable and included. We all notice the powhiri which goes on too long, or seems wrong for the occasion. But is there a similar level of outrage about similar manifestations of protocol from other sources - the introductory speech which goes on too long, the inappropriate comment from the mayor, the failure to acknowledge people. What is worse, welcoming people, or making them feel not welcome?

Getting back to Finlayson, who was head boy at St Patricks College when I started there in 1973. His Maori affairs, treaty issues role probably comes from his acting for the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission in his former job as a Bell Gully lawyer. It is worth remembering though that Labour left National's treaty framework intact.

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