Gotta say it was encouraging to get some idea of what Dame Susan Devoy has to say about Waitangi Day.
Or rather, what she has written about Waitangi Day.
Some tosser on Radio NZ’s Morning Report this morning (listen here) was obviously hoping she would expand on what she had written and tried teasing her into saying something untoward. She had the good sense to be circumspect. She should have hit him in the nuts with her squash racquet.
She was circumspect – or rather, considered about what she said as you will find here – because she has just been named Race Relations Commissioner.
New Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy says Waitangi Day is important and her earlier criticism reflected a belief that other people do not take it seriously.
The appointment was made – as we learn here – less than a month after she suggested Waitangi Day should be ditched as New Zealand’s national holiday.
The Stuff writer seems to disapprove of those views and of her appointment.
Justice Minister Judith Collins praised the four time world squash champion as being “a very strong person, she’s very forthright in her views” as she announced Dame Susan’s appointment.
The former chief executive of Sport Bay of Plenty and Auckland District Health Board member has no clear qualifications for the role of Race Relations Commissioner, but her views may raise eyebrows.
Writing in the Bay of Plenty Times on February 5, Dame Susan said Waitangi Day was “not much different from the political posturing” that goes on at Ratana just ahead of the national holiday.
“The reality is that most New Zealanders either couldn’t care less or are frustrated that what should be a day of national celebration is marred by political shenanigans.”
Those opinions, of course, do not lift Alf’s eyebrows.
They pretty well reflect what he happens to think about the nonsense of Waitangi Day.
Dame Susan went on to suggest we find another day to celebrate as a nation because February 6 did not reflect our varied culture and identities.
“Waitangi has been hijacked and if it can never be really seen as a day of national celebration then perhaps the time has come to choose another true New Zealand day.”
Stuff perhaps expected Crusher to be bothered by those statements.
Ms Collins said she believed many New Zealanders would support Dame Susan’s views, and that her role was to be a commissioner, not a conciliator.
Asked about her qualification for the role, Ms Collins said Dame Susan was “used to being a minority” when she served as a woman on a corporate board.
She’s used to banging balls around, too.
And Alf recalls a “kill” being a useful weapon in the armoury of squash players – this involves hitting the ball hard and low on the front wall so that it travels no farther than half court.
It will be great to see her demonstrate her prowess on tossers like Morning Report inquisitors and Stuff’s Hamish Rutherford.
For the record, Dame Susan told Morning Report Waitangi Day is about celebrating the signing of the Treaty.
“What I would like to see is everyone acknowledge how important and special that day is,” she said, “and I don’t currently see that.”
Much more heartening, she said race relations is not solely about Maori and Pakeha but encompasses a whole range of things.
Yep. We are a multi-cultural society nowadays, although Dame Susan will soon discover that some members of that multi-cultural society can claim to be special and demand special treatment accordingly.