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Monday, June 14, 2004


Last week New Zealand's state broadcaster TVNZ televised a programme, State of the Nation, which coincidentally, intended to expose the state of the nation or as the show's co-host Kerre Woodham put it:

"Free from politicians and radicals, the show will hear from ordinary people - Maori and Pakeha - from a wide variety of backgrounds who want to contribute to the race debate. Hopefully, we will be able to talk rationally about our differences without it being threatening for either side."

(And oh how ordinary some of them were)

State of the Nation was timely following Don Brash's famous Orewa speech where he declared that under a National-led Government policies and decisions would be based on need, not race so as to avoid our nation's "dangerous drift towards racial separatism."

TVNZ even flew BBC World Service presenter, and Kiwi, Anita McNaught - or as one contributor to the NZ Herald's letters page today called her: Anita McZero...Allan Anderson of Birkendale must still be chuckling at the depth of his truly fantastic wit - to host the show.

That decision has come under fire from NZ First leader Winston 'keen for a drink' Peters... Yes how inappropriate for a state-owned broadcaster to pay for a quality, professional hostess for a tevelvised debate of national import! Shame on you.

Firstly though I want to relive my favourite moment during the State of the Nation discussion:

it was near the beginning and McNaught asked for a show of hands of the people in the audience - 50% Maori 50% Pakeha - of those who had read the Treaty of Waitangi.

Several in the 'pakeha' (European) side of the audience didn't raise their hands. Several more admitted they had read the document only after learning they were coming on the show.

"Expert" panel member and prominant Maori Derek Fox, former chaiman of Maori TV, lambasted those who hadn't read the Treaty labelling them, when pointing at one Pakeha gentleman in particular, "ignorant" and said no debate was possible with such an ill-informed audience.

The aforementioned gentleman obviously took exception to Fox's comments and said something along the lines of "well I've never heard of any white race of people eating each other" much to the horror of his fellow pakeha who the televison showed refreshing.

McNaught quickly told the gentleman that his comments were unacceptable.

However, I can't help but feel that Fox was merely trying to bait the gentleman and succeeded: his argument that because someone hadn't read the document that they couldn't have valid opinions on it is truly simplistic.

You don't need to have read the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 to have an opinion on the validity of marijuana's legal status.

Interestingly when someone pointed that out to Fox he reminded me of National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee and merely started shouting, presumably to hide an absence of knowledge?

That's the last time I quote you in a politics essay Fox.

Speaking of politics I also shared numerous university tutorials with one of the show's co-hosts Kerre Woodham who I found generally overbearing and mildly obnoxious.
If gossip in the NZ Herald is on the ball then I guess McNaught found her likewise.

But now here's my point - that's one for me inverted pyramid - the vast majority of New Zealand did not give a shit about the programme, or presumably, the state of our nation.

In fact, State of the Nation gathered a mere 12% of the possible viewing audience over 5 years of age. An identical percentage to a programme viewing on another channel: Third Watch.

Now as gripping as an American tv show about "the brave people who serve as paramedics, firefighters and police on the third watch - the shift between 3 and 11pm," is - they find a headless torso this week - doesn't this seem somewhat apathetic?

Forget the foreshore Helen Clark the masses aren't interested, you could probably obtain as many votes simply by flying Third Watch's cast out here for a photoshoot.

To hit two birds with one stone perhaps we could get some of these "brave" actors into the Warriors' front row? They'll try anything at the mo.


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