North Shore Times : November 9th 2010
6 NORTH SHORE TIMES, NOVEMBER 9, 2010 OPINION Proudly 100% NZ owned and operated and supporting the Community since 1971 www.madbutcher.co.nz Offers valid from Mon 8th Nov - Sun 14th Nov. All Stores Open 7 Days The Mad Butcher - Your Local Butcher with the Best Range, Quality and Low Prices! Mad Butcher Tender Breast Chicken Fillets only10 $ .99 kilo Fresh Tegel Size 20 Chickens Mad Butcher Genuine Chicken Sausages only9 $ .95 each only3 $ .99 kilo The Mad Butcher Mega BBQ Pack! 20 $ All of this for Only • 8 BBQ Steaks •10BBQ Sausages • 10 BBQ Patties •1xGarlic Bread Fresh Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel only13 $ .99 kilo Boneless Chicken Breast Fillets lightly basted to be extra tender, moist & tasty! Diabetes Awareness Week 16 -- 22 November www.diabetesauckland.org.nz 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 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 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 maraes 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.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 per- manent tapu. 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 off firstname.lastname@example.org or write care of this newspaper. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.
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