Tommy Kapai: No thanks to the 'say no' brigade

By Tommy Kapai


Too often we tell our tamariki what they can't do and eventually they put up a wall of defiance.

"Don't do this. You can't have that, no you can't go there" is a common catch cry that many of us use without taking the time to think about what a more positive response could do.

Sometimes when we say "yes" or tell our tamariki what they can do, it has the opposite effect of saying no all the time.

The wall of defiance starts coming down and the blocks of a new more stable wall are built between parents and their kids.

The same can be said about our communities and their elected leaders or those within the community who have refined the art of saying no - and they seem to dominate the headlines for that very reason.

Every week, there is a new cause to add another "say no" to and the past week is no different.

Say no to this siren or that one that works better than the other one that hasn't been installed yet. Say no to bare bum bike riding, say no to dredging. The hot "say no" of the past week was to say no to the proposed boardwalk.

My computer screen has been receiving more hits than a Sonny Bill jaw from a say no campaigner called Colleen who I must say, when looking into her supporters, doesn't ring any long-term, familiar sounding local bells. So no thanks to saying no Colleen. Not yet anyway.

Surely the solution is finding out all the facts and then making up your own mind without being belted around the computer screen with Say No Now!

For my two bobs' worth of saying no to a boardwalk (I personally like the one on the ocean side), the opinions expressed by the guest columnist in Saturday's Bay of Plenty Times Weekend were pretty much bang on and not a say no in sight. Just a "say let's have a good look at all the options".

This town has an underbelly of saying no for the sake of saying no and that underbelly is well represented across our political, cultural and community spectrum.

I call it talk-back politics, whereby those elected members who want to retain their political lifestyles intentionally polarise opinions to curry popularity among their voters. It's an old and effective way of keeping your seat on councils, Iwi boards and in parliament.

Hopefully, we as a community will see through this say no brigade and start saying no to saying no.

It's a bit like the old bob each way belief that some say keeps one's options open. Others call it running with the wolves and hunting with the hounds. Billy T used to say it was sitting on the fence until you fall off because your bum got too sore and when that happens what you think doesn't matter anyway.

I reckon Billy was about right.

For me, there are only two things in life at this moment that can hurt my family and I strongly say no to both of them. The rest I can deal with in-house.

The first is the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un. This crazy clown wants to launch a nuclear attack on his own countrymen to the south and anyone else that gets in his way. If you read what I have been reading on and offline lately, the hamster has had a big feed in his biscuit tin and he could be crazy enough to push the buttons.

The second is drink-driving and the effects alcohol is having on our community. These are the two kaupapa or co-papa I will say no to straight off the bat.

There are so many more reasons, excuses and causes to say yes to than there is to say no to and if we can counter-punch the say no brigade at every opportunity maybe we can turn Tauranga around to being the positive place we would all like to live in.

Too often, saying no is the easy way out and taking time to find out for ourselves what saying yes is all about is worth a crack. Eh, Billy?

Tommy Kapai is a Tauranga author and writer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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