White man’s anger, fact-light debate & Key’s secret

Some thoughts on today’s crop of newspaper columns…

In HoS, Matt McCarten gives us a potted history of New Zealand/Aotearoa, in the vein of The Sixty-Minute Shakespeare. He sums up the period known to Maori as Te Riri Pakeha — white man’s anger:

“The settlers set up provincial governments and passed laws to take the land without their consent. When Maori protested, the settlers sent in volunteer armies to kill them and steal their land anyway. Once they’d stolen enough land to share among the members of the militia they pinched some more to sell to cover the expenses of their excursions. Many descendants of these criminals begrudge today modest compensation to the Maori descendants of the former landholders.”

I had been pondering how Key’s mis-speaking over the “peaceful” way that NZ “came together” raises important questions about how we see our history.

We’ve made real progress in our understandings, in large measure through the good works of such popular historians as Michael King, Tony Simpson, James Belich and now Chris Trotter. (Trotter’s No Left Turn includes a couple of chapters that cover early Pakeha land-grabbers — essential reading for aspiring PMs.)

But how well do we understand what Te Riri Pakeha means to Maori? Tony Simpson’s book of that name is an excellent introduction, butwe clearly need to know a great deal more than we do. Then we’ll understand just how unpeaceful New Zealand’s origins are.

Ralston weighs into the digital broadcasting debate. He provides a helpful, if partial, summary of the key players and their arguments, can’t resist a few cracks at his former employer (no disclaimers, strangely), and seems to miss the point about Sky’s Murdoch’s dominance of sports programming, for example.

It’s extremely expensive to set up a digital system like Sky’s (Ralston gets this), very few can afford to do this (but Murdoch can), and having sunk the cost you get a monopoly. Could this be how Murdoch makes his money? Partly, it is, as other countries have figured. There’s the answer to Ralston’s rhetorical question. Slagging off your ex-bosses for inefficiency doesn’t help.

Lastly in HoS, Fran O’Sullivan gives a surprisingly (for her) balanced briefing on imminent announcement on the rail system. Not sure whether appointed Jim Bloger to head the Board will stop the overblown attacks of the rusty train-set variety, although rational and informed discussion in this area would certainly be welcome.

Over at the SST, Vernon Small points to “some lax political management from Labour” helping National to score points about light bulbs — “fact-light wrangling” Small calls it — when it should have been a golden week of Treaty settlement warm fuzzies.

In by far the most interesting story today, Nicky Hager reveals the truth about John Key’s image fashioning. Nothing illegal, unless the Sale of Goods Act applies to politicians. Explains a great deal. And worthy of a post of its own. Must reading.


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One Response to “White man’s anger, fact-light debate & Key’s secret”

  1. Inventory2 Says:

    JP – I probably regard Hagar’s writings about as favourably as you do Ian Wishart’s. The highlight of the SST today (after the Sport section!!) was Michael Laws’s column, about which I have blogged.

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