How jolly to be having a row about Shakespeare. I see no reason not to join in.
For 30 years or so Creative New Zealand has partly funded the Sheilah Winn Festival, a competition in which secondary school pupils perform chunks of Shakespeare. But not any more.
Creative New Zealand has chosen to pull the funding, having received advice that Shakespeare and this competition belonged to the "canon of imperialism" and lacked relevance to modern Aotearoa.
Well now, some 30 years ago a sixth-form class of mine entered the Sheilah Winn Festival. They performed part of the last act of Macbeth, where the tyrant learns of his wife's suicide, gives the "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech, then hauls on his armour and goes out to fight Macduff.
The two lads in the lead roles had both learned to recite Shakespeare's verse as if it were normal speech, which is why, I suspect, the local judges sent us through to the national final held in Wellington.
This event was a revelation. Most of the shows were directed by the kids themselves and the standard was superb. Moreover, the atmosphere was improbably supportive despite everyone being in it to win.
The result was a very happy two days, and though the judges got the result spectacularly wrong - they passed over a performance of Richard III that would not have disgraced a professional company - I came away knowing I had witnessed something special.
And this is what Creative New Zealand has now ceased to fund.
The rationale behind the "canon of imperialism" advice is that Shakespeare is held in high esteem at least partly because of the culture he belongs to. It's a legacy of the old colonial mindset, the cultural cringe.
But that doesn't seem to be a view shared by the countless schools and universities around the globe that retain compulsory Shakespeare in their curriculum.
Nor by the people who stage annual Shakespeare festivals in any of the 20 countries. Nor by the people from all over the planet who have translated Shakespeare into their native tongue so as to spread his work as widely as possible.
Nor would it have been the view of Shakespeare himself. He was the least local, the least parochial, of playwrights.
He grabbed stories from anywhere and anywhen. His four greatest tragedies, for example, are drawn from Scotland, Denmark, Venice and prehistory. His settings range from Warwickshire to a desert island. He is the most universal of writers.
For all that te reo and sign are official languages, Aotearoa remains predominantly English speaking. It does almost all its business in English, writes its laws in English, and tells its stories down the pub in English. And Shakespeare's contribution to that language is unparalleled.
On the shelf by my desk is the Chambers Dictionary of Quotations. Quotations from the Bible, a book compiled over centuries by hundreds of authors, fill 50 pages. Quotations from Shakespeare, who was only himself and who died at 52, also fill 50 pages. No one else gets 10.
Bernard Levin, prince of columnists, wrote an essay that consisted of little but Shakespearean quotations:
"... if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is father to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare."
Shakespeare is part of the birthright of every speaker of English. He also isn't easy.
But the only barrier to his work is the 16th-century language. And I know for a fact that one of the best ways to help kids past this barrier, and into the archetypal stories and the unforgettability of the poetry, is to get them up onto their hind legs to perform.
I hope the Sheilah Winn Festival survives.