Thursday, 5 November 2020

Another Twyford in the making?


Martin Luther King famously had a dream that his children would be judged "by the content of their character, and not the colour of their skin." Nor, one would have thought, by the markings emblazoned thereon.

If he were still alive, Martin Luther King would still be dreaming. Even as we speak, practitioners of identity politics are discussing election results on the basis of voter's skin colour instead of on their character. No wonder they're so confused.

Just as confused were most people, let's be honest, by the announcement that Nania Mahuta is to be to New Zealand's Foreign Minister -- quite literally, New Zealand's face to the rest of the world. In the absence of any visble achievements after more than two decades in parliament, and in a world bathed more in considerations of skin colour than character,  it would be easy to think that this appointment is less about merit than it is about about identity politics. (Which, I believe, is the point this author was trying unsuccessfully to make.)

The point to be made -- that could have been made -- is that in the absence of any actual, visible, tangible achievements (and even her most loyal supporters refer to her achievements in two decades in parliament as "quiet"), the suspicion must be that the new Foreign Minister has been chosen not for any particular attributes of character, but to placate a newly enlarged "Maori caucus," which always and everywhere judges issues not on character but on skin colour. And our politics needs less of that. 

In a small country in a turbulent world that is utterly dependent on trade, he job of Foreign Minister is one of the few that is actually a real job, one in which success or failure is often important. So it's helpful to understand what attributes she does possess for the post -- and since her announcement in the post came as such a surprise to most commentators (not to mention many of her colleagues) they've been scrambling ever since to describe what these attributes are. They're not all good. But they may balance out.

Ms Mahuta is said to be lazy. But that was no barrier to the long political career of the last Foreign Minister. 

And she's also said to "read her papers." Which puts her streets ahead of him.

Astonishingly, for a politician, she's also said to be honest. But that was said about her by a former politician, so it's hard to believe too much.

She was said to have helped her father in researching Tainui's historic Waitangi claim. But that was many years ago. And she is also said to carry "the legacies of her tīpuna [ancestors] ... [which] completely disrupted the comfortable foreign policy fortress of her detractors." And whatever that might mean it's more about she was born to than what she has done since.

So it is just possible that in her recent associate-trade and export growth portfolios she did apparently "demonstrate her proficiency" at "bringing people together," which is what the Prime Minister and her supporters were left to say about her in support of this new appointment.

Which still sounds like more than Phil Twyford ever achieved in politics. 

But that is a very low bar.



  1. PS: I endorsed Olivia's book when it first came out, and still do. She wrote 'Western Values Defended: A Primer' before she disappeared (like too many others) down the Orange-man rabbit hole, and it remains a very good book. (I'm presuming it hasn't been updated since I read it!)
    If you can't buy it from Mighty Ape, just buy it from somewhere else.
    Get a copy of a Barbara Streisand album too while you're about it.

  2. The banking/corporate world as I have heard regard the moko as a plus, a point of difference, not a negative. Let's see. Ms Pierson and her cohorts on SOLO have always been garden variety conservatives at heart, not Objectivists. I said that 15 or more years ago.


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