No glory in being best of mediocre lot


Oh dear, Herald readers have voted Helen Clark the greatest living New Zealander which only proves we’re a very mediocre lot.

That is not just  because my political bias clouds my judgement of her, I wouldn’t have considered any of the top five finalists as great either. They were:

* Helen Clark – 3163 votes
* Willie Apiata – 2645 votes
* Sir Murray Halberg – 1467 votes
* Peter Jackson – 1340 votes
* Peter Snell – 1041 votes

Others to score well were All Black great Colin Meads, 1021 votes; Mad Butcher Peter Leitch, 514 votes; The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall, 387 votes; and Louise Nicholas with 361 votes. Sir Roger Douglas, nominated by Don Brash attracted debate but not a lot of votes.

All have done something of note, some more than others in their fields, but great? No.

I agree with Clark who said that Sir Edmund Hillary would have won the title had he still been alive. That wasn’t because he was first to climb Everest but because of what he did subsequently, in particular in the way he used his achievement to help others.

I can think of no other New Zealander with the mana he had nor anyone who even approaches greatness.

The Herald has generated discussion, and traffic to its website, with the poll but the only thing it’s proved is that there is no-one worthy of the title greatest living New Zealander.

There are many good things about New Zealand and New Zealanders but none of us is great.

Saturday’s smiles


 In keeping with the theme of yesterday’s poem:

A new MP was on a tour of the local hospital when her entourage came to a ward full of patients with no obvious signs of injury or illness.

She greeted one patient who replied: “Fair fa your honest sonsie face, great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race.”

She was a little confused, but smiled pleasantly and moved on to the next patient who responded: “Some hae meat and canna eat, and some wad eat that want it,”

Even more confused, but still unfailingly polite, she moved on to the next patient, who immediately began to chant: “Wee sleekit, cowerin’, timorous beastie, thou needna start awa sae hastie.”

Now more than a little confused, the MP turned to her escort and said, “I didn’t realise your hospital had a psychiatric ward.

The doctor replied, “Och, this is nooo a psychiatric ward, lassie, it’s the serious Burns unit”.

Tables turned at Ratana


Even a year ago few would have put money on the chances of  reading this headline and the introductory paragraph :

National receives warm welcome at Ratana

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 8:04p.m.
Today Labour got a telling off and National enjoyed the warmest of welcomes at the annual celebration of Maori prophet TW Ratana’s birthday.

The gathering has a long been an important event on the political calendar and in a  symbolically powerful first, the National Government and the Maori Party walked on to Ratana side-by-side.

The perception of National among Maori has clearly been boosted by its deal making two Maori Party MPs ministers outside of government. . .

. . . “National has achieved for Maori what Labour hasn’t in 80 years,” Rantana elder Ruia Aperahama says.

Labour has been reminded again that taking the Maori vote for granted and scorning the Maori Party was very silly.


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