Central Leader : November 10th 2010
5 CENTRAL LEADER, NOVEMBER 10, 2010 OPINION Customer Services (09) 442 2222 7.30am to 6pm, Mon to Fri Faults and emergencies (09) 442 2222 24 hours Dear Auckland Welcome to Watercare This is our second week of delivering water and wastewater services directly to your homes and businesses. As you may be aware, your water accounts transferred automatically to Watercare last week, as part of the local government changes. You may be wondering how this will affect the services you receive. We can assure you that we are used to providing millions of litres of drinking water every day. It is what we have been doing since 1992, along with treating wastewater and managing pipe networks. What has changed is that we are now serving you directly. Future water and wastewater bills will come from Watercare. This change means there may be hiccups as we nd our feet. We can assure you though; our dedicated team will work hard to x these quickly. If you have any questions or feedback, please call. 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ENROL NOW To enrol now or for more information, contact: 0800 10 10 60 | www.manukau.ac.nz Eight classrooms conveniently located around Auckland. HOWICK I MANGERE I MANUKAU I MEADOWBANK OTARA I PAPAKURA I PUKEKOHE I THREE KINGS DAYTIME I EVENINGS I WEEKENDS 7499 00084 C When men's rights are wrong It's all a matter of customary rights. That's the way I see it -- and I've had some experience as you'll see. No, I'm not talking about the water's edge rule or whatever they're calling the latest attempt to please everyone while apparently pleasing no one -- particularly Hone Harawira. My topic is actually the way the Brown Auckland administration is redrafting my set of customary rights. Having Maori elders sit Penny Hulse, the new deputy mayor, in the second row because of some sort of ancient, tribal dominant sex ruling is a strong case in point. I'm still not at all reconciled to quavering and some times flattish versions of that old Pakeha hymn How Great Thou Art being sung at the drop of a mere to open just about any public occasion. With Pakeha sometimes hongi- ing each other to follow. Let's shake hands on that. Actually, I thought the passing of Sir Howard, the great exponent of it, might give us a relief from the How great'' treatment. (I still treasure the gag that he used to practise it before a mirror and while shaving. Which sounds like the sort of comment only the truly great Billy T James could get away with.) Although I've got to say that any- thing, including the Goons, would have been better than the range of multicultural renditions (in the sense of tearing apart) of other tunes swearing-in and maiden speech marathons. What I'm sick of is the apparent customary indigenous right to turn every state, local or even family local occasion into a tribal hongi, and sometimes haka, occasion. And this is not a new feeling . There was the grand opening of AUT's three-year communications degree course years ago -- last cen- tury actually. The North Shore hall was turned into a notional marae for one of those long welcoming powhiri. Trouble: Tribal advocates ruled that they set the rules and since the one-time resident tribe in the area had a No women speaking'' ban on marae that had to apply at our place too. The politically correct staff of that time, feminists and all, just con- ceded. That's the way it was. Then another major equal rights issue loomed. The deputy head of the communi- cations department was a woman and that apparent protocol handi- cap meant she couldn't speak in our own hall as had been planned. Welcome to join in the odd verse of How Great, etc'' -- but nothing more. No nothing. Ancient protocols wouldn't allow it. As a lecturer on the journalism course I was affronted. I don't know whether Phil Goff was so concerned. He was, shall we say, resting'' from Parliament and on the teach- ing staff there too. Anyway, after a certain amount of argy-bargy, a temporary post- colonial option was taken up. All the males who wished could say their piece. Then the marae powhiri event would be ruled to be over, the hall would instantaneously and miracu- lously revert to its real mundane, permanent role and all protocols would lapse. Madam could speak. Kia ora. At the next board of studies meet- ing, I expressed real regret about that slight to her and that there had not been one line of translation in the whole 45-minute Maori language performance -- and I used that word deliberately. I argued that if we wanted or were pressed into turning our hall into a marae then we should have the right to set the protocols. I pressed what I thought was a relevant point -- that the vast majority of the 50 or so students beginning a course in communi- cations had spent much of the first hour of their three-year course not understanding any of the por- tentous oratory. Total non-communication. Could we please have a balance of translations next time? The following month, the minutes of that board meeting reported crisply and with feeling that Mr Booth criticised the use of Maori at the induction''. That precis showed me that more than the students needed teaching the real meaning of words. All I wanted was to know what they were saying. Then there was a powhiri (not in Auckland) to welcome a new health board into their own meeting room -- which seemed to me rather strange. It too had been elevated to become a marae for a few hours it seemed. We were marshalled in the corri- dor and then summoned in the tra- ditional wailing way. With a slight but significant traffic jam. I stood back to let the chairperson lead us in. She wouldn't lead us through and hung back which was most unlike her. Actually she was Winston Peters' sister. (One of her other distinctions: She played the bagpipes but not on this new paepae, of course.) It was, she said, Maori custom that men walked in first. So apparently someone who was government-appointed with six years' service was expected to give way to a newly-elected novice mem- ber -- solely because he was a male and she was a woman. That's the custom, bro. I made it clear that the custom in my community was that men stood back for women. Irresistible force meets immove- able object. We sidled in abreast, so to speak. Protocols were intact, that was the main thing. Ahead lay years when the kara- kia opened every monthly meeting. Usually untranslated, of course. And always the Maori chairwoman asked one of the couple of Maori members of the nine of us to provide it.Until the meeting when I asked if I could exercise my customary rights and say a prayer of my own instead. The odd gasp. I prayed for guid- ance -- and an acceptance of other people's differences -- and we then settled to coping with the penance of helping run the hell which is the state of health finances. But I was never asked to repeat the Pakeha karakia. Which is what I hope happens to out-of-date tribal protocols which turn city halls into make-believe marae and park the new deputy mayor into seats behind the men. At the same time I suggest that newly-revealed tendency for the newly-elected to sing, and even dash off their own social comment lyrics, should be covered by a per- manent tapu. Along with make-belief marae. All of which leads me to repeat an old joke -- that in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and the like, men have given up the centuries-old cus- tom of them striding ahead of their wives who dutifully trailed behind. Now women were walking in front. The reason: Landmines. To contact Pat Booth email off email@example.com.
November 5th 2010
November 12th 2010