The saddest thing for us all is the response from spokespeople for the Samoan community so far, and Labour.
Labour should have formally apologised to those they accused of "muckraking" ( I was among them for asking for an independent investigation instead of Clark’s fake enquiry) and sworn to return to bi-partisan upholding of core honesties after the dark years of the Clark morality.
Corrupt abuse of power is normal for most cultures, at most times. Indeed in most cultures a failure to put the interests of your own family above all other duties is regarded as immoral. Those societies are condemned to the routine abuse of power .
We are the lucky inheritors of the culture of one of history’s few but stunning exceptions. This hard won acheivement depends on continual reinforcement of the ethic of stewardship and self denial. It needs periodic refreshing with example cases. The example scapegoats must be formally denounced then shunned with a uniting of factions to show adherence to the underlying common value.
Such a vital but ‘un-natural’ value demands constant patrolling and re-definition of the boundaries. That process allows successive generations to refresh their committment.
The current beat-up over Ministerial housing allowances is an example. It gains its force because of our need for symbolic distance from personal profit from publicly conferred coercive power. We fight insidious weakening of the trust nature of power with emphatic claims whenever the boundary is approached. Almost no nonsense will be over the top when it is an assertion of ‘horror’ at the possibility of personal or family profit from the exercise of public power.
But New Zealand has an achilles heel in this area. Sadly for us, Maori and Polynesian cultures have the normal expectation that bosses will take personal and family benefit from power.
I think wariness about that may be a partial explanation of the otherwise baffling and self damaging failure by the National Party to place Sir Wira Gardiner on its Board over the weekend. His extraordinary management drive and ability are sorely needed. His mana would have been strategically valuable. I detect no racial antipathy among National people, indeed the opposite.
But there was worry about what could result from the combination of Hekia Parata’s position within caucus and a powerful husband on the Board.
For me the need for his competence on the Board outweighed that worry so he was No 1 on my ballot paper, but I acknowledge the legitimacy of the concern.
Our vulnerability to Polynesian tolerance of corruption is doubly worrying when there has been no purging by Labour of its complicity in Field’s defense. Clark’s handling of the issue was despicable. When our core values needed reinforcing she was AWOL. Pity the UN, where corruption is one of their biggest problems and they have a boss with her instincts.
And National is close to the Maori Party. Much as I like Tariana Turia’s qualities, I can not forget that she took Donna Awatere to her bosom when Donna was shown to have abused trust and her office, then did the same with Field when Labour was finally forced to distance themselves from him. Her only explanation was brown solidarity.
Sadly there can be no confidence that NZ will retain its clean politics until we have some strong Maori and Polynesian leaders who will denounce corruption even when it is brown, and claim their shared inheritance of our rare north European political morality .
[I’ve just seen David Farrar’s withering posts on this issue. If we had a fifth estate worthy of the name they’d put aside their campaign against Bill English for as long as takes to extract some apology and undertakings from Labour, and they’d be asking the Maori Party for some vigorous cleansing words as well]