Hard News by Russell Brown

Approaching the obscene

Much as I wanted to avoid joining the feeding frenzy, I think I finally lost patience with the Kahui family show while I was listening to their awful "family spokesperson" Ani Hawke holding forth on Morning Report yesterday. There was a creepy sense of arrogance about the way she spoke; the way she brandished tikanga and her far-too-cute-in-the-circumstances characterisation of the family group as the "Tight Twelve".

In the end, the family members did not come forward with what they knew, as she had promised. Perhaps, in a technical sense, they are all simply exercising the right to silence that any of us would have in their place. In any other sense, their behaviour seems to approach the obscene.

This puts the Maori Party in an interesting position. For years, Tariana Turia has been insisting that abused children are without exception better off in whanau care, that they should never be allowed into "stranger care". She has sometimes given the impression that she believes children to be the property of families, with their interests effectively subjugated to those of the family.

Is that what we're seeing here? Or, as Pita Sharples now suggests, is this just a bunch of ratbag complicit actors using tikanga as a cloak?

When Turia originally made such comments, she was a Labour MP and the toddler we came to know as Lillybing commanded the headlines. Six years on, Lillbing's family has never revealed what someone must know about her miserable death, not in "stranger care", but among aunts and uncles. And Maori babies remain at far greater risk of abuse than any other in New Zealand.

Not everything about this is wholly awful. The Weekend Herald's Once Were Warriors depiction of a feckless, drunken household also made note of the twins' father, "a gentle, modest man [who] did much of their bathing and caring." A vigil stood against family violence in South Auckland this morning. Politics seems to have been put aside for a cross-party accord on violence against children. And maybe this very public tragedy might begin to change things.

Elsewhere, it appears that those Muslim terrorists in Miami weren't exactly Muslims (or even really terrorists), those definitely weren't the WMDs we were looking for and all those Make Poverty History promises weren't actually meant to be taken seriously. Jesus. Is fake news the new black?

And finally, it's good to see that they finally found a use for that TV wall that Heaton Dyer bought for Mike Hosking to stand in front of on Sunday. Now Mark Sainsbury stands in front of it on About Now, but the script is better. They seriously need to slow down those animations during the interviews though. Having a little dabble with 80s neon kitsch is one thing. Repeatedly drawing attention to it is another.

Still: TV One late talk show in doesn't altogether suck shock. Go the Sainzer.