Like a lot of people, I've enjoyed playing the contemporary parlour game called getting your DNA done to determine your origins. A couple of years ago I learnt, to my disappointment, that the family myth about Indian ancestry was indeed a myth. But I was pleased to see that I had a single-figure percentage of central Asian DNA in there to relieve the Aryan monotony. I was almost certainly one of the half a percent (1 in 200) of all men on the planet descended from Genghis Khan. I didn't let it go to my head. The marauding opportunities are pretty thin on the ground around here anyway.
But what I didn't know then was that the DNA folk, aware that their technology is still developing, regularly recheck your details and send updates. And a few weeks ago, I was reclassified. Not only was I stripped of any possible eligibility for central Asian superannuation schemes, I was revealed to be 100 per cent white, and not just white, but exclusively from the British Isles.
It took some time for the significance to sink in.
I am as white as bleached snow. As "white as a thread by hands of angels spun", as the poem has it. As white as a Christchurch Rotary Club. I am quite likely whiter than the average white supremacist. So white it's a wonder I'm not transparent.
Which has led to some consideration of my roles and responsibilities as a pure white male. I probably won't be the first person to tell you that being a white guy is awesome. We get the jobs, the educational qualifications and the automatic respect in any room, irrespective of our talents or ability. If we want people to give us their attention, all we have to do is exist.
White male privilege doesn't mean we don't have to work for things. But we are issued with all the necessary tools at birth and allowed to start a couple of rungs up the ladder.
If we have a fault, it might just be that we sometimes struggle to see the other person's point of view. With this in mind I've developed a simple rule: the only words a white guy is entitled to put in front of the word "should" are "white guys".
White guys should stop telling non-white, non-guys – women, for instance, or Māori - what they should do, which won't be easy, because this is something we have practised doing for centuries. You might say it's got us where we are today. I benefit from the actions of all those generations of white men through history who have been happy to throw their weight around.
Every time I hear a white guy saying "women should" or "Māori should", I ask two questions: how would you know? And why is what women or Māori should do any of your business?
Paul Little: Saving the world, one teabag at a time
But apparently us white guys know Māori should get over it. And women should toughen up if they want to make it in our world (but not too much, thanks, ladies).
Māori should be treated the same as everybody else and shouldn't receive special treatment. Which would be fine if "we" hadn't been giving them special treatment for more than 100 years by stealing their land, breaking Treaty promises and generally doing our best to keep them at the bottom of the ladder and over-represented in every grim social indicator you care to name.
"Oh, but aren't I entitled to have an opinion just because I was born a white guy?" Sure you are - white guy opinions about white guy stuff. In the meantime, white guys should shut up and listen for a change.