Monday morning saw Breakfast host Paul Henry questioning New Zealand Prime Minister John Key as to whether or not Governor-General, Sir Anand Satyanand was a New Zealander, and whether the next Governor-General was going to look and sound more like a New Zealander. From this, two vocal camps have emerged - those in support of Henry (particularly after being put on a two-week suspension without pay, even after a public apology), and those screaming for blood. Then there is the gaping majority who don't seem to give a toss!
I will be one of the first to admit I am a Paul Henry fan. I even tweeted my love for him after his People's Choice Award acceptance speech at the 2010 Qantas Film and Television Awards! I became a Paul Henry fan earlier this year because A. I started watching Breakfast semi-regularly B. He is funny and a bit dorky C. He is not reluctant in sharing his opinions and is prepared to back it or back off, and D. I find the other Breakfast host Pippa Wetzell somewhat boring and Tamati Coffey rather irritating. While I do think the comments made by Henry were inappropriate, I do not think them inappropriate enough to terminate his contract with TVNZ.
In my eyes, Henry's words are a very real reflection of the view of a number in New Zealand society, both young and old - if you fall outside the category of white middle-upper class and do not speak Kiwi, or Posh-Kiwi for that matter, you have no real claim to belonging to New Zealand. As much as people in this country are in disbelief that racism like this could and should exist here, the fact remains, racism, in its many forms, is happily rearing its ugly head in Godzone.
And if you don't believe me then just talk to the drunk palagi I saw a few years back aggressively yelling racial slander at anyone walking by who did not mirror his dirty pink skin, or the naive palagi teenagers on my bus last month playing "Spot the Coconut" accompanied with an abundance of sniggers, or the fat-mouth-palagi I met through work blatantly admitting she is racist, or the drug-fucked palagi neighbour three houses down telling my mother to go back to where she came from. I could go on, but I won't.
All this talk has me coming up with more questions than answers .. When are people going to stop shooting at Paul Henry as if he is the only racist in this country and look at the bigger picture? .. In New Zealand today, how are the seeds for an environment of basic understanding and respect for people from all walks of life nurtured? .. How do I learn to love the aggressive drunks, the naive teenagers, the fat-mouths and the drug-fucked despite their lack of love for me?
This is me - Teine 'Afakasi.
3 weeks ago