Earlier this week, Dr Don Brash, former National Party leader and one time Leader of the Opposition, criticized broadcaster Kim Hill for speaking in Te Reo Maori.
Not surprisingly the backlash was strong as it was swift. But as hard on the ears as it would have been listening to that exchange on the radio and as deserving of the backlash as he was, Dr Brash was merely exercising in his context, Section 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: that to freedom of speech.
As old as Dr Brash’s opinion is and outdated it most certainly is he is entitled to it. In terms of being appropriate or inappropriate, there is no doubt that it is certainly that of a man who is insecure with New Zealanders exercising and growing their knowledge of Te Reo. There should not be any doubt that his opinion is that of a deservedly diminishing minority.
In similar respects, some have suggested my opinion of feminism is – shock, horror! – outmoded too. It has not yet been labelled that of a dinosaur or that of a misogynist and I hope it is never is, because that as we shall now see would be to completely miss my point. My opinion is that to be a supporter of womens rights you do not necessarily need to be a feminist. For me it is more a case of common ideals than identifying with that particular “ism”. Does that make me a chauvinist, or a sexist type of male? Definitely not as I support greater gender diversity; 26 weeks paid ma/paternity leave. I support in general moves to improve the numbers of women in corporate board rooms.
However I do see progress. The three most people in our political system are female. We have Governor General Patsy Reddy. We have Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The Chief Justice is Dame Sian Elias. We have had females in charge of major corporations – notably Theresa Gattung in Telecom and in sporting codes where a perceived (and most probably true)old boys network exists, Raelene Castle in the New Zealand Warriors.
Likewise I do see progress. Many people in the National Party believe Te Reo should be compulsory in schools. Despite not being a National Party member or supporter, I agree that up to Year 8, it should be compulsory. There is no shame, contrary to the days when Dr Brash was in his youth when institutitionalized disregard for Maori saw it as a language taken away from them by the education system. Those days are now long behind us.
And so, as much as people rightfully think his opinion is from a time closer to the age of dinosaurs than mine probably is, Dr Don Brash is entitled to it. However dinosauresque as it is (and it is).