Editorial: Give Devoy a chance in new race role

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The controversy surrounding the appointment of Dame Susan Devoy as race relations commissioner refuses to go away.

Finally, after weeks of avoiding some media and facing public criticism, Dame Susan fronted up to newspapers and television news last week for full-on interviews.

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend carried a candid on-the-record interview with her on Saturday morning.

She also featured on Campbell Live and in our sister paper, the Weekend Herald.

These interviews were long overdue.

Her role is a public one and hopefully she understands the importance of making herself available to the media to answer questions on various issues.

I thought she looked uncomfortable on Campbell Live as she faced wily veteran journalist John Campbell last week.

Hopefully in time she becomes more familiar at dealing with the tough questions.

The main current issue is, of course, her appointment.

Some high-profile politicians and Maori leaders have questioned her suitability for the job and formally challenged it.

In true Dame Susan style, she responded to this paper by saying it was New Zealand's culture to put people down and not pick them up.

She also pointed out that she had not even had the chance to make a mistake yet.

On paper, I am unsure if Dame Susan has the right credentials for this demanding role. She has a strong moral compass and a tough hide, is driven and successful, but I am unclear what specific race relations skills she brings.

But having said that, she has a point. She has barely started the job and people should give her the opportunity to do her best.

It is unfair of these politicians and Maori leaders to try to sabotage what should be another achievement in her full and successful life.

Who knows? She may do a first-rate job.

Let's see how she performs over the coming year before passing judgment.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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