Saturday, June 13, 2009

A muse on reading, two letters to the editor and some myths

One of my greatest pleasures is reading.

I am a voracious reader, reading anything and everything, sometimes it almost feels like I'm compelled to read. Growing up I read most of the books in the local library. I know it sounds unlikely but it was a smallish library and in those days you had to write the first 4 letters of your last name and a number on the card in the back of the book you wanted to borrow. So I came across mars12 quite a bit and that's how I know how many I read.

I am not a fan of the new recording systems that library's use nowdays. They give you that bit of paper and that seems like a waste. I never look at it again, it could be that some people keep the bits of paper to keep track of what they have read, but not me.

I enjoy newspapers and particuarily the 'letters to the editor' area of The Press. I'm often shocked by the attitudes and the views seem alien to me. But I love the fact that people feel strongly enough to write, and that we have the freedom here, where views can be expressed freely; even views that are repugnant.

Just as often there are letters which sum up how I feel about an issue really well. Better than I ever could. Our greatest gift is our individuality; our unique combination of strengths, experience and intuition. The paradox is, that the more we rejoice in our individuality – the more we realise how utterly alike and connected we all are.

In The Press today Murray Horton from Central Christchurch writes, and whilst I don't agree with his solutions at the end, I do agree with his major points:

"First it was the Reserve Bank Governor, Alan Bollard, urging banks to play the game – be good chaps, don't let the side down, and other similar cliches. The we had the spectacle of the Minister of Finance, Bill English, faced with the politically embarrassing spectacle of those same four banks having piled up $4.5 billion in profits, begging them to please play nice and scale back their flagrant profiteering.

That is likely to meet with “who is going to make us?”

It's time for the Government to pull its finger out and say: “We are.”

New Zealand taxpayers are now the guarantors of the deposits of the banks, yet get no say in their running, let alone ownership.

The Australian-owned banks go on their merry way, piling up profits as if the crash never happened, while turning off credit for their New Zealand customers, keeping interst rates high, refusing to reimburse mum and dad investors whom they have bilked, laying off staff in their hundreds and outsourcing their jobs to Third World cheap labour.

The taxpayer needs to be directly represented on the boards of these Aussie banks underwritten with our money. And, if that doesn't do the trick, nationalise them."

Good letter, concise and to the point.

This letter from Peter Baxall, Merivale, is a letter which shows the insidious racism that is there in our society:

"Once again we are under attack through the replacement of our European trees, shrubs and plants in public places by politically correct native substitues.

Leading this latest attack is Professor Ian Spellerberg in his latest article on native plants (June 5). He writes that our native plants are our heritage. What rubbish!

Christchurch is known as the Garden City only because of the beautiful shrubs and trees our European ancestors brought with them to remind them of England and start the process of colonisation. That's our heritage.

When on the city council, I set up a subcommittee to look at ways to plant more trees in the inner city, which happened.

Now we find a row of cabbage trees, those ungainly stalks with clumps of flax on the top, making a mess on the pavements, lining the Stanmore Road shopping centre streets.

Ignoring public opinion, council officers are hell-bent on relacing European shrubs, plants and flowers in public places by installing flax, cabbage trees and tufts of untidy native grasses. Indeed, anything that will make Christchurch look more like the time before those frightful Europeans arrived."

Ex city councillor Peter Blaxall misses the point and exposes his own racism.

Peter, in my view there is no one, let alone maori who believe we could possible reforest this country so that it was as it was before Europeans arrived. And I don't think many would want to.

You have fallen into the trap of thinking of maori culture as static, when in actual fact it is continually growing, changing and developing. It is never static, that is why maori are still here, growing, changing and developing.

All parts of the world are also growing, changing and developing. The fact is that native trees, shrubs and grasses are perfectly suited to this environment. They grew, changed and developed here. Introduced species have also made this country their home. That is all good.

But the natural home for the natives is here and therefore the more natives that are in our enviroment the better the total ecosystem. There is still room for all, but natives are best.

If this country had not been colonised we would still have everything we have today. The difference is that everything would have been introduced via the maori worldview. Mistakes would have been made but the intrinsic fairness of maori controlling their destiny, in their country, learning to interact with the world and other countries and peoples, would still lead us to the type of country we have today. Only much better.

That exposes another myth in my view.

This country isn't in it's relativly good position in spite of maori, it's actually because of maori. The good things about this country are all due to the mana of maori. Despite colonisation and the repeated attempts to destroy maori, the mana of maori is so strong that it has maintained and grown. Once this country recognises the mana of maori we will grow, change and develop spectacularly.

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