Hone’s staffer is saying sorry – so what was it that should not have gone out in the email?

Nah, the contents are the same no matter how it is wrapped.

Alf likes to think he runs a very efficient office, although Mrs Grumble reckons actually it is she who does the running.

No matter. The reality is that no emails would ever be despatched without someone first reading it to ensure Alf’s enviable reputation would not be sullied by the contents or his association with them.

Things haven’t been running as sweetly in Hone Harawira’s office.

A mate of Alf, who knows someone who knows someone on Hone’s emailing list, has been the recipient of something that amounts to an apology.

This apology should be framed and kept for posterity, because apologies emerge from Hone’s office about as often as trains stop to drop off passengers at Eketahuna.

Mind you, the apology comes not from Hone but from Raewyn Harrison, his assistant (and a lovely lady, Alf hastens to add, notwithstanding her choice of boss).

She has apologised for sending out an e-mail last night “because of the language it contained”.

Alf wondered if this was because the language was English, rather than Te Reo, and so he tracked down a copy of the offending email.

As it turns out, the offending words were expressed in good old Anglo-Saxon. Expletives, actually.

Raewyn accordingly is explaining that her intention was not to offend anyone “but only to spread the views of opposition to this bill. I should have screened it better – my mistake”.

This bill, of course, is the bloody foreshore thing.

It has raised hackles on all sides.

The email which Raewyn should have read before resending is in the name of a Tim Selwyn.

Alf suspects this might be the same Tim Selwyn who has done a bit of jail time after being found guilty of sedition on June 8, 2006, the first person charged with sedition in New Zealand for more than 30 years.

According to Wikipedia, this Selwyn bloke was also investigated by other government agencies after his initial arrest and was sentenced to a further 15 months for dishonesty offences against various departments which had occurred more than 10 years beforehand (imposed at the time of the sedition sentence) – and a further 25 months for tax offences (on 14 February 2007).

He was released from prison in October 2007, which means he got off bloody lightly, although Alf might have been tempted to join him in the act deemed seditious because –

Selwyn was arrested on charges of sedition and wilful damage in relation to throwing an axe through the Auckland electorate office window of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark over the foreshore and seabed controversy on 18 November 2004.

But let’s come to the email sent by a Tim Selwyn, who may or may not be the seditious Selwyn.

It was prompted by his attending one of Te Ururoa Flavell’s foreshore and seabed ‘roadshow’ public meetings this week.

At some juncture he claims to have asked Flavell Te Ururoa – “and he was forced to concur” – that what had been negotiated with this legislation is unfair, unjust and immoral.

And yet the salesman still wanted us to buy it. Like changing the wrapper on a shit sandwich is going to change the taste – it still reeks, we all know what it is – and it ain’t fucking vegemite.

Alf must confess to being unfamiliar with this sort of sandwich.

He does think that if it isn’t vegemite, maybe it isn’t too bad. But he won’t be putting this to the test.

Anyway, it seems Tim Selwyn (the one whose name appears at the bottom of the email) thinks the Nats have out-flanked the Maori Party on the bill.

Alf reckons this is just as well, because the idea of the Nats being outflanked by the Maori party would have him spluttering with rage.

Here’s the account of what happened in the email writer’s encounter with Flavell –

Who is running the timetable, I said – National, he replied.

Who wrote the bill? National. Whose bill is this? National’s. It’s not the Maori Party’s bill at all.

So why the hell vote for it? It’s not the 2004 Act itself that has to be repealed it is the confiscation mechanisms that must be repealed – that’s the important bit, if they got rid of those bits then the Act would be OK.

Trying to claim the repeal of the Act in itself is some achievement is nonsense if the confiscation clauses are merely restated in the new bill. Repeal of the 2004 Act in these circumstances is not a promise worth keeping.

Alf disagrees, of course, because he reckons all promises should be kept.

He also thinks Raewyn was right to apologise. Mrs Grumble would have been deeply shocked had she been the recipient of this strongly worded bit of email.

If a more temperate (but pejorative nevertheless) adjective had been applied to the vegemite, however, she would have been in full agreement.

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