For more than a year our state broadcaster, Radio New Zealand, has concealed the fact that it is engaged in a campaign to “change the linguistic landscape”. This radical new mission was far from voluntary. It was imposed from above, forced upon a supine RNZ staff following amendments to the Maori Language Act in 2016.
Few New Zealanders were aware that one of their most trusted institutions had been so fundamentally subverted, and no-one at RNZ, it would seem, thought fit to tell them (or even, as many of us might have hoped - to protest). But no, they just quietly went along - some of them minimally and probably reluctantly, but others with servile enthusiasm.
How long the deception would have persisted is anyone’s guess - not too much longer, I suspect, since more and more people were beginning to wonder what was happening to their once-familiar service.
The cat is now well out of the bag, and RNZ, its institutional duplicity exposed, has become increasingly defensive. What, after all, is RNZ’s proper role, and why should a taxpayer-funded and ostensibly independent broadcaster be covertly engaged in reconfiguring the language we all speak daily?
Damage control was urgently required, and thus, on 2nd December, Dr Don Brash - who had expressed some unease at the Maorification of RNZ, was interviewed on the Kim Hill programme (see HERE).
Hill started off with legalities. Did Dr Brash not realise, she said, that under RNZ’s charter the protection and promotion of te reo by RNZ was now a statutory responsibility?
This proved less than a king hit, with Dr Brash quietly pointing out that if so the charter was at fault. Te reo, he said, was more than adequately “protected and promoted” with 22 dedicated radio stations plus a television channel on air already, and, since the primary mission of RNZ was to communicate with its audience this should surely be done via English -the one language understood by everyone.
Hill continued in hostile fashion, and it soon became obvious that this “interview” was not intended to be an interview. There was no attempt to discuss the substance of the issue, or elucidate Dr Brash’s point of view. This was to be a ritual performance, with Dr Brash cast as the apostate, the malignant cell, to be reviled and scourged by Saint Kim of the Righteous Airwaves.
Kim did her hectoring best. She fired what she thought were killer questions and unanswerable propositions - and then, when reasoned responses were forthcoming, she huffed and blustered and shifted ground to the next “unanswerable” assertion.
The Treaty, inevitably, had an airing. It was a good treaty, opined Dr Brash - it enshrined our common citizenship, our equality before the law, and our democratic property rights. It was, as originally signed, a “wonderful foundation for nationhood”.
But this was not what Kim wanted to hear. The Treaty that she had in mind was a different one: a much more correct and up-to-date one - the latest revised product of the Waitangi Tribunal, perhaps, with different rights depending on race, and “principles” sprouting like mushrooms to the advantage of the usual suspects.
Dr Brash demurred. The original Treaty has been very clear. There had been no confusion about what it said: no confusion about citizenship, or equality, or about the vital matter of ceding sovereignty. But even these basics were now being questioned by self-interested revisionists (backed by the wretched Tribunal) and the Treaty, in Dr Brash’s view, was being turned into garbage.
Mistress Hill, for all her hectoring, made little progress. She tried the standard, familiar excuses for the preferential treatment of Maori - the legacy of colonisation, our domineering culture, our obligation to the tangata whenua.
But this backfired somewhat when Dr Brash quietly explained that Maori, in historical terms, were recent arrivals in New Zealand. The Moriori were here already - and thus it was they, not the newcomers, who were the genuine tangata whenua.
One could almost, over the airwaves, sense the Hill blood-pressure rising. Yes, said the Don. The real tangata were long gone - slaughtered by the Maori. Conveniently they were no longer around, and their claims could be heard no more.
Kim’s gaskets blew at last. Exasperated and spluttering, she terminated the “interview”.
It was all good theatre, and I must say I enjoyed it. Kim Hill’s bulldozing never worked, and by his unruffled good-manners Dr Brash showed once again the superiority of reason to prejudice.
But beyond theatre it must be said that the Brash/Hill interview exposed something very significant. It revealed, beyond any doubt, that our state broadcaster is now deeply committed to an unprecedented political project. No longer a neutral service, it is now engaged in the overt manipulation of its captive audience. And whether the listeners like it or not, it has accepted the authoritarian task of “changing the linguistic landscape”.
No objective observer should be surprised by this development. For twenty years and more we have been subjected to an insidious subversion of every aspect of New Zealand life - a government-backed racist programme that the general public is mostly unaware of.
Treaty-clauses, inserted by stealth, now permeate our legislation, each one transferring its quantum of preference to Maori. And thus our democracy is being chipped away, little by little, in a deliberate attritional process whose endpoint is apartheid.
The quislings of the liberal left invariably applaud this sedition. Blind to all but their own delusions they have colluded in the inversion of our most basic values. We are no longer all one people - as the original Treaty specified. We have different rights now, depending on race, and equality has been redefined as a dirty word - a synonym for racist prejudice.
Kim Hill does not speak Maori, and neither does she understand it. Her defence of its enforced intrusion on RNZ is essentially ideological - as her encounter with Dr. Brash so unequivocally demonstrated. But, as always with true believers, she can never confess to error, and when her orthodox defences were shredded by Brash, she sought refuge, ostrich-like, in an altogether novel direction.
“Obligatory te reo on RNZ?” Well, ventured Kim, plaintive now: “it’s kinda nice to listen to”. Three times, in different ways, she repeated this: “It’s kinda nice to listen to”.
We have, at this point, passed beyond anything that may be debated rationally. There is no accounting for individual tastes, and what sounds pleasant to one person may be cacophony to another. Orchestral music, the sound of the sea, wind in the trees, or the Buddhist chanting of OMMMMM - all have their adherents, and there may even be an idiosyncratic few who, for relaxation, listen to languages they don’t understand.
Kim Hill, as RNZ’s resident big-brain, is an unexpected candidate for self-deception. She believes, obviously, the we would all be improved by regular doses of te reo, and she is entitled to that belief. But to defend it - to persuade those beyond her own insular and self-regarding class - she must advance convincing arguments - and these she has failed to make.
“Kinda nice to listen to”.
Please, Kim, get a grip.
Dave Witherow, who is a long time columnist with the Otago Daily Times, emigrated to New Zealand from Northern Ireland in 1971. He's an author, script writer, and worked as a scientist for Fish and Game.