Author Eleanor Catton says she will discuss "inflammatory, vicious and patronising things that have been broadcast and published in New Zealand this week" in future interviews she does with foreign media.
"I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for better, and demand it."
The acclaimed author posted the comments on her blog tonight in response to criticism she's received this week for describing the Government as "neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture".
Catton told reporters at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India earlier this week that she's struggled with being an ambassador for New Zealand because she doesn't think the country is doing as much as it could to support the literary arts.
Catton, who won the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries, said she felt "very angry with my government".
"At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, (are dominated by) these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture.
"They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want."
"I've never really thought of myself as a New Zealand writer. Coming and being an ambassador for my country when I feel that actually my country is not doing as much as they could for the intellectual world in general, but for the literary arts ... It's just a slightly complicated position to be in," she said.
Prime Minister John Key responded at the time saying he was disappointed Catton "doesn't have respect for the work we do because I have tremendous respect for what she does as a writer". He said Catton has been aligned with the Green Party and her comments "probably summarise the Green Party's view of this government".
Yesterday her father defended her criticism of the Government by taking on broadcaster Sean Plunket after he branded her an "ungrateful hua".
On Wednesday Plunket said he did not consider Catton an ambassador for New Zealand but "a traitor", and called her an "ungrateful hua".
Dr Philip Catton, a former senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Canterbury, confronted RadioLive presenter Plunket on his show this morning.
Dr Catton said that resorting to name-calling "derailed" the discussion about government and the arts that the Man Booker prize-winning author had raised.
"Name-calling is no help to respect for ideas, respect for differences of ideas," Dr Catton said.
The author's full statement
In the past twelve months I have travelled to England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Spain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Brazil, and most recently India, attending literary festivals and helping to launch foreign-language editions of The Luminaries. To be read and received in different contexts around the world is an unbelievable privilege, one that is constantly shaping and reshaping my relationship with New Zealand, with my book, and with myself. My Maori character's storyline took on a new significance for me after reading to First Nation elders in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I thought about the Hokitika gold rush differently after exploring the Brazilian coastal town of Paraty, where Brazilian gold, dug by slaves many miles inland, was once shipped out by the ton to Portugal. Talking about astrology in India, and about the nineteenth-century novel in Sweden, and about fiction born of philosophy in France, altered my sense of how The Luminaries fits in with other literary traditions and cultural histories around the world. I have seen also how the novel itself changes according to context: its social and sexual politics, its formal preoccupations, its attitude to history, its language, all become more or less audacious, more or less difficult, more or less successful, more or less interesting, in different parts of the world. The degree of familiarity that international readers have with New Zealand culture and history varies greatly, but one thing remains a constant: everyone I meet who has a personal connection to New Zealand will make sure to tell me all about it, sometimes at length and into a microphone of which they will not let go. I love these moments of connection and the conversation they bring. I am proud that the book is read by people whose lives do not resemble mine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak publicly about reading and writing, two of the things I love most. Like everybody I sometimes say things I don't mean and mean things I don't say, but throughout the hundreds of interviews that I have conducted since The Luminaries was published I have been conscious of my role as an ambassador - of my country, yes, but also of my gender, of my generation, and of my art.
The New Zealand mainstream media, though quick to flare up over a condensed record of remarks made last week in Jaipur, are in general altogether behind the ball: I've been speaking freely to foreign journalists ever since I was first published overseas, and have criticised the Key government, neo-liberal values, and our culture of anti-intellectualism many times. One reason why my remarks have not have been noticed in New Zealand until now may be that in most modern democracies a writer expressing an opinion is not considered, in itself, shocking. The truly shocking thing would be the writer who only spoke in praise of her country; who was unequivocal in gratitude and platitude; who swore fealty to her government, rather than to deep-felt values or ideals; who regarded arts funding as hush money and a part-time teaching position as an intellectual gag. I hope that that author does not exist today; but if she does, she is the one who should make the news.
In future interviews with foreign media, I will of course discuss the inflammatory, vicious, and patronising things that have been broadcast and published in New Zealand this week. I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them, and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for better, and demand it.
POSTSCRIPT: I will not be making any further comments or conducting any interviews at this time.