Margaret Mahy not welcome at Rheema

Lovely quote from the wonderful Margaret Mahy:

“Humour’s a funny thing,” she said.

It was uttered by the bemused (but highly esteemed) children’s author after an interview with her was cancelled because a Radio Rhema disc jockey deemed her take on New Zealand history in a new book “disrespectful”.

The book, Awesome Aotearoa, Margaret Mahy’s History of New Zealand, recounts the country’s history, with a good dose of Mahy humour and illustrations by Nelson cartoonist Trace Hodgson.

The afternoon host on the Christian radio station, Rob Holding, put a halt to last week’s planned interview via email.

“I’m sorry to say that, after reviewing the book, we are going to have to decline the interview with Margaret Mahy and, as a lover of NZ culture and history, you have no idea how hard it is to say that,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the book is just a little too far over the tongue-in-cheek line, bordering on disrespectful in places. (The cartoons certainly don’t help in that area.)”

Mahy told The Press she was puzzled by the reaction.

“Humour’s a funny thing,” she said. “What’s funny to one person is not necessarily going to be funny to another.

“I don’t feel upset by it. You just become reconciled that not everyone is going to read the text in the same way. That’s the mystery of reading. I don’t set out to offend.”

Mahy said she had religious views, “but they wouldn’t quite match up with the views of the people that support Radio Rhema, I suppose”.

Alf doesn’t know what’s in the book, and hence doesn’t know what offended the Rheema programme presenter.

But according to The Press:

One section referred to Captain James Cook’s discovery of New Zealand, and she wrote that it might have been unwise to come to a land of cannibals with a name like “Cook”.

Holding did not return calls to The Press. A spokeswoman for the Rhema Broadcasting Group said the company chief executive was overseas and unavailable for comment.

Actually, Alf has no problem with the radio station and/or the disc jockey deciding who they will and will not interview.

It should be allowed the same right to choose its guests as – say – Whale Oil, who would not be rushing to give a guest slot on his blog to the Mayor of the North Shore.

This item is posted not to chide Radio Rheema, but to air Mahy’s splendid quote and to give readers just the faintest whiff of what might be in the book.

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