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Divide people, you invite division

Opinion Piece
From Uncle Craig’s rocking chair

by Craig Bauld

Craig Bauld

Aw gee Gisborne, can we lighten up and stop with the “racist, racist” rhetoric about different views on Maori wards? Reminds me of seven-year-olds chanting “Fatso”, or “Four-eyes” at classmates. Gets kind of tiresome for us grown-ups.

I get that recent generations have gone through an education system involving a sharply revisionist history of the world where “evil white men” enslaved “noble brown/black peoples”, but buying into that narrative demonstrates a lack of critical thinking akin to simple-mindedness.

The question of Maori wards is about political power, hardly anything to do with race at all. Personally, I am against separate Maori wards and I am quite happy to discuss the reasons since I don’t give a good tiddley-tollops what people call me, never have.

In my view, if you deliberately divide people on any basis you invite division. In Gisborne we have traditionally tried dividing councillors into rural versus urban. Made more trouble than it was worth, in my view. There have been previous calls to divide male/female because of a perception of imbalance. Hmm, might be a little bit of sense in that, since there are far more differences between men and women than there are between skin colours. We might equally divide people into old and young, clever and stupid, rich and poor, honourable and dishonourable, whatever.

But the single stupidest thing I can think of as a basis for division is on the grounds of race. Treating people differently on the basis of race, hang on, isn’t that the exact definition of racism?

If you seek a just and fair and equitable society, isn’t that the absolute last thing you would do?

Might sound clever to people who think about five minutes into the future; sounds like idiocy to anyone who thinks 50 years into the future. It sets us on a path of division on grounds of race for the foreseeable future. Forever, I guess, since good luck with trying to reverse it a hundred years from now when the new system has generated an unbridgeable gap.

Political opinions, any opinions really, depend on which factors are most important to you, personally. They are not supposed to be a cause of war, as between Democrats and Republicans in the US.

I wholly understand that proponents of Maori wards have a case. In the short term they would deliver greater Maori representation, and if the short term is your main focus then your opinion is reasonable. But as I said, I don’t look at the short term. Long term, entrenching divisions on the grounds of race is against everything that I understood New Zealand to stand for.

I don’t care if there are a couple more Maori on the council next time. I care about the country my great-great-grandchildren will inherit. I care about people trying to divide me from my friends and rellies as if I could give a toss about their skin colour.

Race is just about the most pathetic reason for division that I can think of.

  1. Joe Naden says:

    Is this the same Craig Bauld who as principal of a largely Maori school in Turanganui a Kiwa is on record saying that it was OK to strap Maori girls as they were immune to pain or different from Pakeha girls or did not care so much or some such crazy reasoning..
    In the 1970s the roll of this school was about 600 tangata whenua and a dozen tauiwi.
    So he does see different treatment on the basis of race is OK. Could this apply to wards?

  2. Eruera Arano says:

    One of the reasons for Maori wards is to decrease division between Maori and non-Maori. There is already a lot of division, it’s interesting that you don’t see it. Maybe that shows your biased point of view?

    1. Ken Ovenden says:

      Hi Eruera, could you please give a more in-depth reasoning to your statement “decrease division”, when wards based on a racial basis are dividing the voting base of an electoral area. Having read most of the written submissions in these columns, not one single writer has given any reason let alone something valid that gives even a hint of reason for the need to divide voters based on race.

  3. M. Hills, Tauranga says:

    Craig, I agree with you. Dividing council wards into Maori and non-Maori is nothing short of separatism or apartheid – the very system South Africa was condemned for in the UN and worldwide for over 40 years. It seems very hypocritical to me.