No glory in being best of mediocre lot

24/01/2009

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.


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