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Consultation and empathy sadly lacking

Opinion Piece

Attacking the messenger is an age-old response to a message one does not want to hear or understand.

I stand by everything I have said about the waste of money on the Cook Sestercentennial; the exclusion of the wider public, and the division it is causing.

But it is evident some writers to the paper do not bother to properly read what others say — they would rather spit out personal attacks.

For the record, I have always supported telling the history of the local tangata whenua.

The full facts of the Endeavour’s arrival here should and must be told. There should be no glossing or glorifying, but recognition — and acceptance that the events of the past cannot be judged by today’s standards.

It would seem some people want to hold bitterness and grudge to their heart, 250 years after the landing, in similar vein to longstanding vendettas such as the Montagues and Capulets in Romeo and Juliet, or the Hatfields and McCoys of America.

Tribalism, religious or racist separatism, or supremacism, has no place in the modern world.

I have as much right as anyone to be aggrieved at history — my forebears lost land and position to the Normans. In modern times dozens — yes, dozens — of Handfords died fighting in world wars . . . fighting for the freedoms of speech, thought and belief, freedom from racism and supremacism. I was the last of my line.

In New Zealand I have been attacked because of being white, even though I am not personally responsible for the wrongs of the past.

I repeat — I fully support Maori in their efforts to have their story told and have their rightful place in New Zealand.

But it can be achieved without denigrating others and without trampling on other people’s history, culture or goodwill.

Downright lies and inflammatory remarks about our shared history do not help.

Since the decision to build new council offices, the placement of the pou in Kelvin Park and so on, full public consultation and participation, along with a deeper empathy, have been sadly lacking.

The projects of the sestercentennial continue this grossly undemocratic behaviour.

Roger Handford