Deborah Coddington: Bunny ban and the threat to nationhood

Poor wee Easter Bunny. If the Canterbury regional council has its way, the cute and fluffy icon will be banished, along with Girl Guide biscuits (too much sugar), egg-and-spoon races (risk of salmonella), play-dough (more germs), and the most popular playtime game when I was at primary school - bullrush (too dangerous).

It's no wonder that recent figures showed more children now show up at their doctor's door with RSI from surfing the internet, than those with broken wrists from falling out of trees.

According to Environment Canterbury, it's no longer "appropriate" for the rabbit to be thought of as cute and cuddly because real live ones are breeding like, well, rabbits, and laying waste to pasture in the South Island high country. Which is no doubt true, but are these bureaucrats and local politicians serious when they hold the symbolic Easter bunny responsible?

Perhaps we should ban any bureaucrats from getting silly ideas from their overseas counterparts. For instance, some local councils in England now ban any form of Christian icon lest it upset or offend work colleagues of differing beliefs. And they do this in the name of tolerance. What it really signifies, of course, is the weasely appeasing attitude the West is adopting towards extreme Islam. No self-respecting moderate Muslim would take offence if someone else in the office wore a crucifix.

Similarly, confident and robust Christians I know don't blanch when I hit my thumb with a hammer and take their Lord's name in vain.

If the Easter bunny icon (why do we have him anyway? To deliver our eggs? Why eggs then?) is taken out and shot, then chocolate eggs will surely follow. Aren't they offensive to vegans, who wear their dietary habits like a self-congratulatory religious belief?

From what I remember of my Sunday School days, I think the egg represents a new life, so Easter eggs are analogous with Jesus Christ rising from the dead. So if that is true, then in the new spirit of religious "tolerance" which the Human Rights Commissioners are determined to foist upon us, the banning of Easter eggs as an Christian icon is not far away.

But note how the PC police never actually want to ban the holiday itself, which was originally recognised for Christian reasons.

And while I'm warming to this theme, how come the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, quickly dispensed with many of the so-called trappings of the British monarchy which her government viewed as anarchic and a blight on New Zealand's independence, yet holds on to the links when convenient. We no longer have Sirs and Dames, Queens Counsel, the Privy Council, but she retains the right to call herself The Right Honourable. And we all merrily enjoy our Queen's Birthday holiday on the first Monday in June.

Does it matter? Yes, I think it does, but then maybe I'm just a dinosaur. Nonetheless, the following quote, published in 2003 but which I only read recently, caused me some disquiet. The words are from Dr Manying Ip, Auckland University Asian studies professor, asserting that New Zealand needs to let go of Britain: "Europe hasn't even looked at us since the 70s. What's wrong with New Zealand to keep on thinking it is tied to Britain? We're suffering from a very sad case of unrequited love. New Zealand isn't part of Europe, it's not part of the United States or Canada. Are our quality migrants going to fall from the sky or something?"

Interestingly, Ip came to this country because her husband qualified for entry to New Zealand from Hong Kong (prior to its return to China) under a very European scheme - the targeting of Commonwealth trained doctors. And there is no doubt we are the better off for welcoming migrants like this, but should those of us who don't hail from Asia or the Pacific just abandon our own whakapapa?

Do I, in Ip's view, have something "wrong" with me because I think it's important my children know about where in England their grandparents, and great-grandparents lived? Why they moved here? Why they went to war on our behalf?

I know this argument seems far removed from Easter bunnies but there is, I believe, a connection.

Environment Canterbury sees Easter bunnies as a threat to the war on grass-munching rabbits which threaten the livelihood of farmers. Clark's government sees British convention as threatening to New Zealand's path to republicanism. And Dr Ip views the clinging to British systems of democracy, justice and history as a threat to Asian immigration. They're all wrong. We don't need to ban, sacrifice, or abandon one thing in order to embrace another; we can have it all. Happy Easter.

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