Paul Holmes on New Zealand

Paul Holmes is an award-winning Herald columnist

Paul Holmes: Are NZers getting in their own way?

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The Green Party should not have to pay for Mojo Mathers' note-taker. Picture / Mark Mitchell
The Green Party should not have to pay for Mojo Mathers' note-taker. Picture / Mark Mitchell

Crafar farms, note-taker funding, and then there was Mallard.

The summer continues in its refusal to be one with drizzle becoming a constant of the late afternoons. This is a summer that feels like late autumn, though you get the odd bit of respite.

Not that I've felt too much respite this week. But if you dish it out, I've always said, then you've got to be able to take it. But, my gosh. How dare I suggest there is anything negative about the way we commemorate Waitangi Day or suggest that the annual agitation there is putting many people off caring two hoots about it. From the reaction of some you'd think I'd called for the annihilation of a people.

But let me tell you this. While the objections to what I said have been strident, so has the support for what I wrote been immense. I've never had such reaction to a column nor had so much unsought support or affirmation.

And I would suggest that what I wrote is what most people think but don't dare say.

I ran into an American who's lived here most of this decade. In fact he's become a citizen. He said to me, out of the blue, "New Zealand tends to get in its own way, doesn't it?" And I understood him and I agree with him. We all do it, I think, Maori included. I just think that instead of shouting and ranting with bitterness and resentment, which is what Waitangi seems to so many of us to be at the moment, we should work together to get jobs and a better attitude to schooling and to diet. These things are hard to make progress on, of course, but we've got to work together because we're in this together. We've got to look after each other. Heaven knows we have on millions of occasions so far and there's nowhere else for many of us to call home.

And who should look after Mojo Mathers, the deaf new Green MP? Specifically, who should pay for her note-taker in the House? Mr Speaker says the Green Party have to, that Mojo is their MP, they should look after her. He says that he can't just charge into taxpayer funds for it any time something new comes along and that the Greens get enough in Parliamentary Service funding.

I'm afraid I disagree with the Speaker. Disability is part of our national life. We still place the most frustrating impediments in front of our people with disabilities. There is nothing easy about disability. If Parliament won't take a lead, who will? She made a very good account of herself on television the other night and she appeared to be lip-reading Mark Sainsbury's questions. She seems very able and the intensity of her eyes indicate that she is, shall we say, well focused.

So I think the Speaker may have bitten off more than he can chew. Spring for the note-taker, I say, Lockwood.

The Crafar farms are an untidy pesky thing again. A judge has decided for an overseas purchase of such an entity as the Crafar farms there has to be "identifiable and substantial" advantage in the deal going to overseas money. The decision has the taint of politics. One judge has decided he can overturn a decision made after months of deliberation by the Overseas Investment Office and two elected ministers of the Crown. No other land sale approval to the Chinese has been knocked back in the High Court. So suddenly, New Zealand is seen abroad as an investment nightmare to deal with and with the falling economic forecasts, the country has been deprived of a couple of hundred million of nice new Chinese money.

The senior political columnist for this newspaper, John Armstrong, sees all sorts of political danger for the Government should they simply try and change or "clarify" the legislation. I'm not so sure the Crafar farms are the visceral issue they were until a month or so ago. When John Key announced they were going to the Chinese money, it seemed to put the issue to bed. People got used to the idea and noted that the world hadn't fallen apart.

There are more important things. Like Trevor Mallard selling his tickets to a Wellington festival on Trade Me and clipping a very nice profit.

- NZ Herald

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