Hard News by Russell Brown

A good day

This is a good day. Why? Because our new feature, Great New Zealand Argument, launches with what I'm pretty sure is the first published transcript of David Lange's 1985 Oxford Union debate speech. I can't think of a better way to launch our new "historical blog" than this.

Every fortnight from now on, Great New Zealand Argument will publish notable essays, editorials, speeches, comments, reports, chapters and pamphlets, loosely - but not exclusively - revolving around a theme of national identity.

The idea is that these things draw new life, and relevance, from being published alongside contemporary comment. In a fairly long stretch using the Internet for work and play, I have developed a deep respect for the source document: it's all very well to read about something, but there is no substitute for the original. I also believe that in the digital world, the best way to archive something is generally to publish it. (In this, I would also like to provide some sort of lead for the government's welcome but still-vague promise regarding the establishment of a New Zealand Creative Commons.)

So I would encourage you to link to the Lange speech, tell all your friends, add Great New Zealand Argument to your blogroll, write a story about us in your newspaper, whatever. I'm keen for people to see this, and the more links it gets, the further up the Google rankings it rises.

All going to plan, next up in GNZA will be Bill Pearson's oft-quoted (but out of print) 1952 essay for Landfall, Fretful Sleepers: A Sketch of New Zealand Behaviour and its Implications for the Artist. Donald Stenhouse, Pearson's executor, has kindly consented to its publication, so it just remains to get the thing digitised. After that, I'm thinking about Fintan Patrick Walsh's 'Walsh Report', with an introduction by Graham Hunt (yo! Penguin! wasn't someone sending me Graham's book?). I'd also like to delve into New Zealand's considerable tradition of pamphlet publishing.

Feel free to send me suggestions for future publication. I'm not anticipating running out of important opinion to re-publish. And I'd like to thank Karajoz Coffee Company for being smart enough to understand what we're doing and help us do it. I'll have another announcement on something else we're doing with Karajoz early next week. That's pretty cool too.

Anyway, our traffic at Public Address keeps rising. We're nudging 3000 visits on most weekdays - and our generous exposure in Frontseat's feature on Keri Hulme seems to have brought us some new readers. Last month, we logged 60,000 visits from either 21,000 unique readers (our count) or 14,500 (Nielsen NetRatings count). We'll top that this month.

I'm just glad that we have good reading for them when they come here. I mean, check out Che Tibby: the guy gets in touch as a letter-writer, starts contributing as a guest, and now he's made two posts this week that are better than 90 per cent of the altogether-too-many columns that currently crowd the papers. And it's free!

So thanks to him and all the other bloggers, CactusLab, 95bFM, Scoop, Pead PR (who do get it), our advertisers (who are always welcome) and to you, the readers. Public Address takes up far too much of my time, and it doesn't really pay, but it's the best thing I do. Cheers.