Defending Brash

From the rather rude and disparaging remarks (Opinion, August 10) made about Dr Don Brash, I am assuming that the writer does not know him.

I, on the other hand, am fortunate enough to be well acquainted with this kind and generous man who I would describe as a "gentleman". He is also highly intelligent and very interesting to listen and talk to.

What Dr Brash is trying to achieve is simply equality for all New Zealanders, irrespective of race.

How can it be unjust or racist to ask that all New Zealanders are treated with the same respect and have the same rights as every other New Zealander?

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In fact, to argue that some branches of society should have more rights or benefits than others, just because of the colour of their skin or historical background, is exactly what Dr Brash is trying to extinguish.

He is not racist, people misconstrue his views without fully understanding his reasoning, which is that all New Zealanders should be treated equally, regardless of race.

Dave Bridgens
Bethlehem

Farewelling a stalwart

On Friday the Bay of Plenty Times farewelled reporter John Cousins.

His retirement ended 24 years of experience at the Bay of Plenty Times and many more as a Kiwi journalist. JC sat through more Tauranga City Council meetings than most of the politicians currently at the table – taking councillors to task on behalf of the city's ratepayers.

Civic reporter he may have been, but when the need arose he could turn his hand to anything – and he did.

On my first day of work experience at the Bay of Plenty Times, I answered a ringing newsroom phone.

The caller was from Greenpeace, ringing to inform the paper that protesters planned to climb aboard an incoming vessel in Tauranga Harbour that day. Fittingly "green" myself, I was sent to cover the maritime drama.

By the time I returned to the newsroom the only person left was John Cousins, finishing up his council reporting for the day. Had he not taken the time – his own time - to guide me through that front-page story my start to a rewarding reporting career may never have got off the ground.

I never forgot it, John, and over the years I saw you share your knowledge and arguably one of New Zealand's greatest reporters' contact books with many a young reporter.

You're a true gentleman of the trade, enjoy your retirement.

Michele Hunter
Former BOP Times reporter