It doesn't add up that this country of natural, unpretentious, modest people could produce some of the broadcasting personalities we have.

I know in my case it has to be an age thing: wanting to be informed, not hear the opinion of presenters. Irritated at the childish, forced humour; the assumption that we lack the intelligence not to see through presenters' views; the cackling self-consciousness, the preening, self-referential stuff.

Yet in the same country my half-Samoan dentist in Timaru removed an infected tooth and told me a bit of his background. Seven years at medical school, overseas for a while, deciding on a dentistry career, sharing the difficulties and disadvantages of being brown in a world of white, while also realising it was up to him.

I now know there are only five Samoan dentists in the country, and that he intends to do his bit to encouraging more Samoans into the profession. He plans to put back into his community; and as to how good a dentist he is, I've not had better.

It's a pity more of our well-off and wealthy don't put back into society. I don't mean for one moment that any of us has a right to tell people what to do with their money, but if we could just give a little back (though that hope comes perilously close to socialists knowing how best to spend other people's hard-earned money, a stance that horrifies me). I also strongly believe our wonderful country keeps getting dumbed down to the point where there's no culture; only vacuous, unread idiots who can't wait for their next fix of puerile reality tv series, who only talk inane, trivial drivel.

I've experienced a different New Zealand in the last week. A Maori school only 20 minutes' drive from a prosperous South Island town, a handful of wonderful staff, children pouring out their dreams and aspiration.


At a rugby match at my old high school I watched a game featuring my nephew's private school team against Christchurch Boys' High. Some bloody good rugby was played. Near us three good mates, no doubt fathers, chatted and laughed and cheered; two Pakeha and a Maori. Just Kiwi mates.

And I thought about the endless, shrill mantra of how whites carry such a weight of racist sin and I thought: Really? At a rugby game? Rugby fans began the long day's feast with the Crusaders against the Highlanders. What a match. What drama. Did anyone even think what race each player was? I doubt it.

Then the country saw that team of NPC no-names take on the mighty Lions stacked full of internationals and run them close. What race were the Barbarians? I know the coach is a mix of Maori, Australian and European. Wwho cares about his ethnic background? Can he coach or not? Answer: Decidedly yes.

The teams are just New Zealanders playing a game together who end up brothers-in-arms and good mates for life. Often things depend on how you see the world. Some cured Maori heads were repatriated about a week ago and a cultural spokesperson accused former colonials of being insensitive to the practice.

They doubtlessly were.

But so were Maori tribes to each other. Warriors came home carrying slain enemies' heads in triumph. We ate each other. We're all okay with cannibalism happening in the past. We shouldn't be okay with people trying to rewrite history or be selectively forgetful.

Hongi Hika came down from the north in 1823 and killed scores of my ancestors, feasted on them for many days and returned to Northland with Te Arawa slaves. Why is this never mentioned? It is no reflection on who and what Maori are today. It's the past on which only fools and the permanently embittered dwell.

The obliteration of the national intellectual culture is far more worrying. Egotists and wordy shrills seizing the high ground is the bigger concern; tattooed Maori heads coming back to New Zealand more a kind of belated closure.


Look at the sports teams throughout our rather special nation to know that the loudest voices on racism are deliberately overlooking that we are less racially divided than a tiny vocal minority would have us. If sport is life then we're in it together. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.