Pita goes down in rugby maul

(as dictated to Mrs Grumble)
Pita Sharples is a bloke with an aptitude for falling into a political mire by talking before thinking. Remember the bullshit about giving Maori kids an easy ride into our universities?

Sharples is in danger of sinking deep into more shit on the idea of Maori Television Service coverage of the Rugby World Cup, as a statement he issued today virtually concedes.

“It’s a pity the bid has attracted controversy, but I am well prepared to discuss the merits of the case with the Prime Minister and other stakeholders…”

But he’s a stubborn bastard, and he’s sticking to his support for the MTS bid for Rugby World Cup broadcast rights. He reckons it’s “a golden opportunity for Maori and the nation, which MTS and Te Puni Kokiri are right to seize…”

“The bid creates a unique platform to promote Maori development for the benefit of the whole country,” said Dr Sharples.

“Labour has attacked the government, but their claims are incorrect.

“When MTS lodged a bid, there were no other live bids on the table, so any suggestion it was in competition with other broadcasters is not true. TVNZ’s bid, and TV3’s, had already been rejected by the IRB.

“On the other hand, Maori TV has said they are very willing to sub-licence broadcast rights, assuming the IRB allows this. Those matters are for the Board of MTS to decide, not me,” he said.

Okay. But what’s in it for Maori, which is Sharples’ area of ministerial responsibility?

“This bid creates huge opportunities to promote and profile Maori businesses across the spectrum, for example, and new jobs will be created. My Economic Development Task Force is certainly interested.

A huge opportunity to profile Maori businesses across the spectrum?

How does TV coverage of an international rugby tournament do that, exactly?

And how many permanent new jobs can he guarantee?

Sharples goes on to say he would love to see iwi radio stations broadcasting games live on their networks, too and (uh, oh, here it comes) “all New Zealanders getting help and encouragement to use Maori words and phrases in everyday conversation.”

So that’s it, eh?

A bloody exercise in social engineering to impose another language on the vast majority of the population, most of whom – like most Maori – communicate perfectly adequately in English.

Alf suspects there’s scheming afoot to have all the MTS commentaries broadcast in Maori.

According to a report on Te Waatea News this morning – Sharples says the bid is “in line” with the MTS mandate “to promote Maori language and culture.”

It wouldn’t be in line with the mandate – surely – if the broadcasts were in English.

A pity Sharples can’t pick up on something rugby historian Malcolm Mulholland said at the start of the same news item.

Little is being done to mark next year’s centenary of Maori rugby, he pointed out, and time is running out for the Rugby Union to line up the appropriate talent for suitable celebrations.

Now that’s a Maori issue, and Alf won’t quibble if Sharples gets off his arse and does something about it –not unless dipping into the public trough is involved.

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