Once upon a time, in a land called New Zealand, there lived a kind and caring young woman called Jacindarella, with a smile so dazzling that everyone had to shade their eyes when she passed by. She lived in a small village called Morrinsvillia but she longed to go out into the big wide world and spread kindness to everyone...except, perhaps, white gentlemen of European descent who were in charge and kept everything for themselves.
She desperately wanted to make friends and be liked. So, one day she joined the International Union of Socialist Youth; a club where like-minded people who wanted to make the World a fairer place could meet and draft wishes. The club adored her so much that they elected her President and she got to use the word comrade as often as she liked.
Much as she loved her new friends, Jacindarella knew that if she wanted to really change things she had to travel to the most powerful city in the land, where all the (self) important people that ran the country, met. So, she packed her bag with all her special things - her PR & Communications Degree, her toothbrush and toothpaste - and set off to catch the bus...to take her to the train...to take her to another bus...until days later she arrived in Wellingtonia.
Tired and weary she asked an old crone the way to the Beehive. “Why do you want to go there, deary? Have a lovely red apple instead!”
Jacindarella was so hungry she almost took the apple but it had a plastic sticker on it and, as everyone knows, plastic is bad for the environment and can get stuck in the digestive tract of dolphins, Jacindarella’s favourite animal. So she politely declined.
Thanking the crone, she plodded on until she reached a building called the Labour Party National Office. The sign was a bright red colour, just like the apple, and reminded her of…. well everything really at the International Union of Socialist Youth. Just then a jolly round man came rushing down the steps and bumped into Jacindarella, almost knocking her over.
“I’m sorry, my name’s Grant. Wow, what an amazing smile you have. You look so kind and caring and seem familiar.”
“I’m Jacindarella. I’m President of the International Union of Socialist Youth”
“That’s it!” said Grant. “I knew I recognised you. We’re looking for someone just like you. In fact I’m sure you’d be practically perfect in every way!”
Grant explained that you first had to join a political party, and then get most of the people in the land to vote for you, before you could have your wishes come true. There were two main parties but Labour were struggling because their leader was useless and nobody liked him.
“Is he a white male of European descent?” asked Jacindarella.
“Why, yes!” said Grant.
“Well there you are then, that’s the problem!” she said.
Grant decided not to point out that the other big party also had a white male leader and they were doing fine.
“Why don’t you become our leader?” suggested Grant.
“But don’t I have to be chosen by the Party first?” asked Jacindarella.
“You leave that to me. I’ll just unilaterally and democratically change the voting rules and you’ll be leader by the stroke of midnight”
And she was. Everyone in the land loved Jacindarella and voted for her. On election night, she promised that she would “govern for everyone...even white males of European descent”. The next morning, in her big office at the Beehive, she held her first cabinet meeting to start making her wishes come true. Some of her new friends were Maori. “ Hi, we’re your Maori Caucus and don’t you forget it.”
They told Jacindarella how badly they had been treated... and how unjust it was…. and that they had re-written some old Treaty and made it a “partnership” so that they should get at least half of everything...and that it was only fair that everyone else should pay for it…. and that if she truly cared about them then they had to come first.
She asked her comrades at the International Union of Socialist Youth for advice. “Are they an ethnic minority? Are they indigenous? Well, of course you have to give them what they want!” they replied.
Jacindarella never told lies and was very proud of this. So how could she break her promise to her “team of 5 million”.
“That’s easy” said her Maori Caucus. “Just don’t tell them what you’re doing...and then buy off the media so they become your friends too.”
“But isn’t that still lying?” asked Jacindarella.
“Of course not! It’s being covert, evasive and underhand...which are good things in a leader.”
Like most fairytale heroines, Jacindarella was very naive and believed her new friends.
Every wish that Jacindarella granted to her Maori friends just made them ask for more, and more, and more. The people of New Zealand started to grumble and moan but they adored their new leader so believed her when she said she was “the single source of truth”.
But, the final straw was not far away.
“We’ve got another wish that needs granting” said her Maori Caucus.
“Another one! But when will I get to grant some wishes for the other 83% of the population?” said Jacindarella.
“Don’t worry about them, they only pay for everything. They’re not important!
Right, we’ve changed all the place names and road signs into Maori so most people don’t know where they’re going anymore, except us. Now we want you to make it so that all the fairytales in the land are only in Maori”
Jacindarella was shocked. “But how will everyone else tell their children bedtime stories?” she asked.
“They’ll have to learn Te Reo - which you made the first language of New Zealand last week - then pay us a royalty every time they tell a story. Brilliant! That includes you by the way.” replied her Maori Caucus.
Now most good boys and girls know that Jacindarella’s “friends” were taking advantage of her so they could get their own way. Even Grant tried telling her how much her wishes were costing the land and how Rumpelstiltskin had been working overtime at the Reserve Bank spinning a lot more gold.
But she wouldn’t listen and she granted the wish. The people of New Zealand were outraged and took to the streets in protest. They called Jacindarella a liar and said she was only kind and caring to Maori.
The Maori Caucus said “Ignore them. That’s typical of colonial oppressors who are in denial and need to apologise for the sins of their ancestors”
Jacindarella didn’t really understand what they were talking about. But she did know that she couldn’t stay in a place where she wasn’t universally adored. She told Grant that she was stepping down as leader.
“What! I don’t believe it! That’s so sad. Hey, can you nominate me as your preferred replacement before you go?” he said.
Jacindarella left the Beehive for the last time and was never seen again...in New Zealand at least.
Labour were kicked out at the next election, all the road signs were changed and, of course, fairytales could be read in any language you chose to.
And everyone lived happily ever after!
Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.