Hard News by Russell Brown


Morning in Auckland

It is a bright morning in Auckland, and I sense that something has changed. The fallout from Paul Henry's disgraceful suggestion that our governor general was somehow less of a New Zealander because of the colour of his skin leads the front page of the city's newspaper.

By the time TVNZ's spokeswoman Andi Brotherston had set up the issue with the spectacularly ill-advised statement that "The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he's prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud," the choice was pretty clear.

You either accepted the proposition that Paul Henry was saying what you quietly thought but were too scared to say, or you didn't. And, with the exception of the comedy victims in the forums of Kiwiblog and Trade Me, we didn't. This isn't to say that suddenly bigotry has disappeared – but most people could see that that there was a straightforward choice to be made.

Sadly, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both somehow managed to failed this simple test: Key by letting it slide by at the time then not seeming to be able to find a true word of criticism afterwards, and Goff by offering that "I think that was Paul Henry being Paul Henry."

Good grief.


And, to the right of the same front page today comes the news that the diverse communities of South Auckland – the people the Auckland establishment has always found it easy to ignore – seem set to determine Auckland's new leadership. Because – in defiance of the conventional wisdom that they are extras rather than actors in the democratic production – they are voting in numbers.

The way things are going, I suppose Rodney Hide should feel grateful that he didn't get his way on at-large voting for seats on the new Auckland Council – or the hapless middle classes of the North Shore would find themselves welcoming their new southern overlords.

Also in today's paper, Simon Collins looks at Auckland's growing ethnic diversity, and touches on a debate to come: the insistence of 11% of Census respondents on describing themselves as "New Zealanders", as if it were an ethnic identity in itself – or, really, as if being of European extraction and being "a New Zealander" were actually equivalent and identical claims.

But we'll have that discussion another day. Today, it seems that we are reaching towards a new understanding of what Auckland is, and who Aucklanders are. And I think that's quite an exciting thing.


The Henry fiasco has serendipitously given us some tasty new fodder for this week's Media7. We invited Venkat Raman and Dev Nadkarni, the respective editors of Indian Newslink and Indian Weekender in to talk about local coverage of India's troubled Commonwealth Games – and now, naturally, we'll be talking about what happened on Breakfast too.

Also in this week's show – Bernard Hickey comes in to talk about his recent act of financial apostasy in the column headed The free market god doesn't exist. While Hickey's column might be the most striking proclamation of a new era of market philosophy, Reserve bank governor Alan Bollard also, in more restrained terms, acknowledges a new world as he concludes his new book. So, what happens next?

If you'd like to join us for the recording tomorrow, well need you to come to the Victoria Street entrance of TVNZ between 5pm and 5.30pm tomorrow. Hit Reply and drop me a line to say you're coming if possible.

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