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.

7 Responses to No glory in being best of mediocre lot

  1. Buggerlugs says:

    Another online poll with about as much credibility as a finance company. At least it gave Labour voters something to do, I suppose…


  2. Dave says:

    Roger Douglas was debated by readers of the NZ Herald online, but was not actually one of the 10 voting options selected by the website for their web poll.


  3. virtualmark says:

    I just commented on this same thing on Kiwiblog a few minutes ago. My first thought on reading the top 5 “greatest living New Zealanders” was disappointment if that’s the best 5 we can come up with.

    Helen is number 1 I suspect mainly because there’s a strongly partisan group who’ll vote for her … she has a natural constituency that she’s spent her life grooming and building to vote for her. Fair enough, being PM for 9 years means you’ve inevitably had a big influence on the country. But I struggle to attribute greatness to someone who seems so vindictive and untrustworthy.

    Willie Apiata is no doubt a brave good man who probably regrets the attention a VC brings. One moment of valour deserves high praise (a VC even!). But greatness? Surely that needs a lifetime of selfless dedication to bettering others?

    Murray Halberg perhaps comes closest. An Olympic champion, but it’s what he’s done with his Halberg Trust that perhaps best qualifies him.

    Peter Jackson … certainly our greatest living artist. And Peter Snell … certainly our greatest living sportsman. But where’s the Hillary like devotion to using that fame as a platform to improve the world?

    Overall I’m sad that this is the best list we can come up with. I do genuinely think the average Kiwi is pretty outstanding by world standards. We tend to be friendly, generous and kind. But perhaps we’re not growing many “greats” at the moment?


  4. scrubone says:

    Like I said earlier, if you have to ask…


  5. #13baby says:

    John Key is probably the greatest living New Zealander. A self made man who lifted himself up from rags to riches yet maintains a sunny disposition and genuine goodwill to all when so many others with his underprivileged background are jealous and hateful. What a bloke, what a human being, what a Prime Minister!


  6. macdoctor01 says:

    As I have said on my blog – a Kiwi Icon like Sir Edmund is something you wait for, not something you vote for.


  7. pdm says:

    Well said macdoctor.

    As I have stated elsewhere my top two would be either:

    Sir Bob Charles – everyone overlooks his contribution to NZ golf.
    Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – a truely international achiever.

    Sir Murray Halberg and Peter Snell bot nest in line.


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