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Willie Jackson’s Eye to Eye and me

  • April 26th, 2009

I’ve enjoyed sparring with Willie Jackson since he came across the House to ask me how I knew to heckle the Maori Labour MPs as "kupapa Maori" (the term for the majority loyal Maori without whom the Crown could not have won the land wars – or as the kupapa Maori saw it – put down the rebellion).

I’ve been deeply interested in Maori history since a book on Te Kooti spurred me to hitchhike (as a school boy) to Te Porere, the temporary pa site that was to be Te Kooti’s last stand. I crawled around in the scrub, before Tongariro National park rangers cleared it and fenced it off. I clambered the heights at Ngatapa near Gisborne, where Major Ropata’s success drove hundreds of Te Kooti’s people to leap to their deaths.

Among the most enjoyable times as an MP were with Maori broadcasters. Some had the time, the boldness and the curiousity to explore issues that were beyond MSM journalism, dominated as it is by young ignorami unaware of how PC blinkers have narrowed their intellectual world.

But I might not risk too many more discussions with Willie after today’s Eye to Eye, broadcast at 11-30 am, and to be repeated at 6-30 pm this evening on Maori TV. It is the  second to last in the series, which will finish next with a one-on-one John Key interview).

He’s frequently sought me as a foil, to wind up his the guests who support his pet causes. He’s always disgracefully misrepresented my position ("far right fundamentalist " etc). I’ve not minded too much, seeing it as absurd puffery, a tactic to create a climate of combat.  But on Friday evening when today’s program was filmed,  Willie was dogmatic and distracted. It may not have come through on screen, but he was not much interested in the pros and cons put up by any of his guests.

Yesterday’s promo for this edition exemplifies that lack of interest in truth. It’s billing (by text and email) led with "Seabed and Foreshore Review not in the interests of New Zealand says Stephen Franks on Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson…."

There was nothing said by me or anyone else, screened or unscreened, that came anywhere near that claim. As ACT’s Maori Affairs spokesman I cast the ACT votes against the Seabed and Foreshore Act because it did not respect property rights. I helped organise an academic hui designed to persuade Labour to be more respectful of both property rights and the rule against retrospective legislation.

When asked by his staff last Wednesday:

"Seabed and foreshore: Cullen admits it’s not acceptable to Maori. National have promised the Maori Party they’ll review it. What do you think?

I responded:

"Strange review group – looks like the Maori Party got whoever they put up. On the other hand it is so obviously unbalanced that if it comes out with something unpalatable it will have no political clout,  so the government can say, in Clark’s immortal words about an earlier Waitangi Tribunal decision [the Taranaki oil and gas decision] – "No, because it is not in the interests of New Zealand".

Sadly Willie risks losing the role that is his to inherit – as one of our foremost broadcasters for the long term. Despite his warmth and his smile and the free pass that often allows Maori leaders publicly to spout historical bullshit without being pulled up, his career would be more secure if he cared more about the truth of what comes out of his mouth.

Or has that free pass helped corrupt our public discourse to the extent where no one much cares any more about truth and falsehood, as long as Punch and Judy keep performing?


  • George
  • April 28th, 2009
  • 12:20 am

In brief, he’s full of shit.

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