Home' Auckland City Harbour News : November 10th 2010 Contents 6 AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, NOVEMBER 10, 2010
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Crittercal' issue finds support
By SCOTT MORGAN
Progress is being made
on a crittercal issue
close to Albert-Eden-
Roskill councillor Cathy
Casey s heart.
The former Auckland
city councillor helped
secure $50,000 for a
piece of animal-shaped
street furniture to be
installed somewhere in
the central city before
the supercity election.
But Dr Casey, who
refers to the animals as
critters, has been frus-
trated by the lack of a
suitable location until
Council officers have
suggested Myers Park on
Upper Queen St as an
with the Myers Park
If we do get our
critter at Myers Park it
will become one of the
things people want to
Because there s a
kindy there it s going to
be terrific for kids, she
She favours a dog
design, which could look
like it s tied up to a seat.
Dr Casey isn t con-
cerned about the possible
installation of a critter
next to the White House
I don t think they
come out during the
day, she says.
Board member Greg
Moyle opposed Dr
Casey s original idea of
putting a critter in Aotea
Square when he was on
the previous council.
However he says the
Myers Park plan is a fair
It s an unobtrusive
spot and less likely to be
He says too many
artworks can create
problems in busier places
like Aotea Square.
If approved, the next
step would be to commis-
sion an artist to design
and construct the critter.
When men's rights are just 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
My topic is actually the way the
Brown Auckland administration is
redrafting my set of customary
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 Morrison, 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
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
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-
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
The politically correct staff of that
time, feminists and all, just con-
ceded. That s the way it was.
Then another major equal rights
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.
She was 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
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
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-
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
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
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
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.That was until the meeting when
I asked if I could exercise my cus-
tomary 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 newly-
appointed 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 permanent
Along with make-believe 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 are walking in front.
The reason: Landmines.
To contact Pat Booth email
firstname.lastname@example.org or write care of this
newspaper. All replies are open for
publication unless marked Not For
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