The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will likely be undergoing a name change soon to the Ministry of Myths, Monsters and Magic, based on recent comments by Foreign Minister Mahuta, in a speech to the New Zealand China Council, which sound like something out of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, all rolled into one.
What the Chinese made of the speech is anyone’s guess but I wouldn't be surprised if a call was placed to the Premier’s office in Beijing just after the meeting ended. I can imagine there being much laughter and rubbing of hands at the thought of negotiating with someone who appears to live in a fairytale. It opens up all sorts of opportunities for China in future trade dealings with New Zealand. Why offer money or trade concessions for NZ resources when “magic” beans - organic and GM-free obviously, or some “golden” geese would do just as well.
At the start of the meeting the Minister stated that “I bestow a life-force upon this gathering”. Look, I know meetings of this sort can be interminably boring but I can only assume some people had already expired at the thought of it and the Minister was going to resurrect them. I suspect nobody at the meeting had the slightest idea what this comment actually meant but it smacks of someone who believes she has supernatural powers or is auditioning for a part of the good witch in Sleeping Beauty. Do we really want a Foreign Minister with delusions of grandeur who addresses our trading partners as some kind of demi-god? NZ will become the laughing stock at every world leaders conference.
Ms Mahuta then went on to compare the relationship between NZ and China as “the respect a Taniwha would have for a Dragon”. I’m sure the Chinese see it more in terms of a sardine and a whale. Respect doesn’t really come into it, we’re just an item on the menu. If we don’t do as we’re told then we end up joining Jonah for lunch - that’s another fairytale, by the way.
The only reason NZ punches above its weight in international affairs is the support we get from our traditional allies in the West. We rely almost entirely on other friendly nations for our own defense against much larger potential aggressors. Let’s face it, if China started to view us as a prospective Taiwan, are we really naive enough to think that the NZ Defence Force is going to beat them back on their own? Our current government seems happy to distance themselves from the Five Eyes agreement and our long-established partners and snuggle up closer to China. I’ve seen all the Hobbit movies and when the dragon awakes you don’t want to be around.
While bedazzling, or should that be bewildering, the audience with her spiritually inspired rhetoric, Minister Mahuta took NZ foreign affairs back in time to a period when superstition, fear and lack of understanding caused us to place all our trust in gods who could, on a whim, swing from being benevolent to angry for no apparent reason. This is the 21st Century Nanaia, not the Dark Ages.
I have nothing against religious, cultural and spiritual beliefs. Everyone should be free to follow their own, but they have no part in government statements and policy. Especially, when the beliefs of only one minority group are promoted as being representative of the whole nation but are not practised by the vast majority. That’s a bridge too far, with a nasty troll under it just for good measure.
I know we live in woke times but this kind of nonsense from a senior minister not only takes the biscuit, it takes the whole gingerbread house.
Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.