Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Derek Mackie: First come, first served!

Believe in parallel universes? For the next ten minutes let’s pretend you do. 

 In a parallel universe there is a country remarkably similar in almost every way to New Zealand. And in it lives a determined and ambitious female politician called Maewe [pron. ‘my-way’]. 

 Maewe belongs to the Whersthia people [pron.‘first-here’], who travelled from their ancestral homeland centuries ago and settled long before anyone else, according to their version of history, anyway. 
About six hundred years later migrants from other countries started arriving. They looked quite different and spoke, what would eventually become, the universal language of business, trade and diplomacy. 
The Whersthia call everyone not belonging to their race, Aotsida [pron. ‘out-sider’], which means stranger or foreigner. 

 In the early days, as new Aotsida arrived, there were arguments and skirmishes, typically over land. These invariably paled in comparison to violent clashes between the many different tribes of the Whersthia who were always feuding, often with devastating consequences. 
To try to stop the continual fighting, almost all of the Whersthia tribal leaders signed a treaty with the Aotsida. In exchange for the same rights and privileges of Aotsida citizens, they ceded sovereignty to the supreme leader of the Aotsida. 
The Treaty, much enlightened for its time, was written in the Whersthia language because, after all, they were here first. 
And therein lay the seed of future division and discontent. 

 Aotsida brought many new ideas, foods, skills and equipment with them which made life for the Whersthia easier and more comfortable. Many people from both groups intermarried and had children, so by the time Maewe grew up it was virtually impossible to find anyone who was pure Whersthia. 

 In more recent times a small number of political activists and academics successfully promoted the notion that the Treaty had been misinterpreted and was really a co-governance partnership between two nations. In addition, they encouraged the view that Whersthia had been unfairly treated and discriminated against based on race, resulting in poor health, social and economic outcomes. 
This compelled the establishment to set up a National Tribunal to hear grievances and make financial reparations for past injustices. 
It was in this atmosphere of racial division that Maewe grew up and developed her political beliefs. 

 Maewe comes from one of the most influential Whersthia tribes and is used to being listened to and respected. Within the tribe, she is at the top of the pecking order, issuing commands to those below her. 
She likes nothing better than to hear the words “I did it, Maewe!”, eagerly spoken by one of her underlings after carrying out her instructions. It’s literally music to her ears! 

 Maewe has always aspired to be in government to secure greater rights for her people. She joined the Labour Party and was elected to parliament. Then, after holding some minor portfolios, was finally made Minister for Whersthia Affairs by the new Prime Minister who, as an Aotsida, had been required to complete a compulsory cultural appropriation and competence course - just one of the many binding recommendations made by the National Tribunal. 
The PM fully embraced her alleged historic guilt and shame and was convinced of the urgent need to promote Whersthia culture, language and people, above all others

 Maewe’s lifelong friend is Arushur [pron. ‘are-you-sure’], or Aru for short, and she has always acted as a sounding board for Maewe’s ideas and opinions. Maewe has a very low tolerance for people with different or opposing views and finds it intensely irritating when Aru questions her decisions, snapping “Now I know how you got your name!” 
She recently made Aru her Special Advisor, partly because she has a first class honours degree in Political Science, PR & Communications, but mainly because they are best friends from the same tribe and you have to look after your own. 

 On the first day in her new job Maewe calls Aru to her fancy office for a policy meeting. 

M: Our PM signed the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People after passing her cultural brainwashing course last year so we now have the legal justification to positively discriminate and show favouritism to ourselves in everything. 
We are no longer just an ethnic minority; we are also indigenous which means we are entitled...and I use that word pretty much anything we want. 
A: Are you sure about that? According to all reputable sources, we don’t meet the definition of indigenous. We haven’t been here nearly long enough and our history recounts how we migrated from our ancestral homeland which makes us immigrants just like Aotsida. 
Also, there’s evidence that when we arrived all those centuries ago, there were already people living here but we had some issues with them and they all…. kind of disappeared. 

M: Well that’s bad...very bad. 
A: You could always apologise to the PM for misleading her and rip up the Declaration. 
M: What! Don’t be crazy. I’m not talking about that. 
What’s bad is that you’re disagreeing with me on day one in my new job and that’s unacceptable. 
A: But I’m your Special Advisor and get paid to give you accurate and sensible advice 
M: Yes, but only the advice I want….and I decide what’s sensible. So start behaving like a proper political advisor! 

M: Right.  Let’s get started. First thing we have to do is get more Whersthia into positions of power in local and national politics and ultimately give them control over all decision making. 
I’ve got a great idea that will guarantee we get automatically elected to councils and parliament - special seats just for us and a complete overhaul of local governance with us in control and every policy designed around equitable outcomes for Whersthia! 
A: But, are you sure that’s fair...or even necessary? 
I’ve checked the Treaty and everyone, regardless of race, is supposed to have the same rights and opportunities, not equal outcomes. And, we’re already over-represented in parliament and perfectly represented locally.
M: Thanks Aru. I’ve taken your feedback on board and after careful consideration I’m going with the draft I prepared earlier in consultation with myself. 

A: What do the public think? 
M: Best not to ask them, since 83% are Aotsida and will probably not see the obvious benefits in my proposal. 
A: But, you have to hold a public consultation process before passing a new law. 
M: Mmm...OK. Let’s give them a week for consultation but announce it retrospectively, a day before the process ends. 
Of course, anyone already in favour of my proposal will be advised privately and have a month to give positive feedback. 

M: Moving on. I want to address the completely inaccurate and unbalanced history curriculum being taught to our sensitive and vulnerable school kids these days. It’s not right scaring them with all the alleged nefarious goings on between Whersthia tribes before Aotsida arrived. 
And then, all they hear is how the country became rich and successful by adopting most of the practices and skills brought here from overseas. 
We need a new Whersthia history narrative that shows how much we contributed to the success of our nation and make Aotsida realise that our achievements, albeit largely spiritual and cultural in nature, are far more important than anything they did. 
That way, they’ll happily show us the respect we deserve and give us whatever we ask for! 

A: Great! Where’s the extensive peer-reviewed research and literature supporting the revised History Curriculum? 
M: I’m still writing it. Just when I think it’s done I get another great idea which will allow us to claim even more wealth, power and resources. 
A: But you’re not a historian! You can’t just change the history of a country on a whim. 
M: Watch and learn, girl! Whersthia history is oral so, in my book, my stories are just as good as anyone else’s, if not better. 
And, if someone criticises or disagrees with me I can call them a racist which instantly shuts them up. Anyway, there are plenty of woke Aotsida academics who think it’s cool to dump on their own history and embrace ours so finding someone with the right, or rather left, credentials to endorse my version of history is easy. 
I’ve also got some of my independent experts, who are fully funded by my department, to produce multiple research papers showing that our cultural beliefs and mythology are just as important as Aotsida science and should be taught in schools on an equal basis. 
Not sure that one will fly. I mean how dumb would Aotsida have to be to swallow that? Don’t answer, it was a rhetorical question. 

M: Let’s crack on! Next, we need to address the inequities in health outcomes for Whersthia who come top of all the worst tables and bottom of all the best. 
The system we currently have is clearly unfair, deficient and blatantly favours Aotsida. In my view, - and that’s really all that matters now I’m in charge - the only way to fix this is to create a new Whersthia Health And Medical authority which will prioritise the treatment of our people over everybody else and have the power to set its own budgets and approve ALL health spending, with a veto to ensure “fair and equal” outcomes for everyone….but starting with us! 

A: But surely treatment and spending should be prioritised by need, not race. And, it’s impossible to get equal outcomes in health because everyone’s different and often it comes down to lifestyle and plain old genetics which you can’t change. 
M: What university did you go to? Nobody believes that crap anymore...certainly not the Labour Party or any of the experts we pay to give us the independent advice we want. 
It’s all the fault of white supremacy, colonialism and discrimination…pure and simple! 
A: How do you think Aotsida will react when they find out they’re footing the bill for everything but are second in line for treatment, with us Whersthia holding the purse strings? 
M: There’ll be a few whingers, but we just make sure they get no media coverage, and then the rest will go along with it. They’re too polite to make a fuss, even when they know they’re being screwed! 

A: What does the Minister of Health say? It’s his department after all. 
M: No problem there, he’s Aotsida too. Was on the same cultural course as the PM. He’s already been knocking at my door, begging for the chance to do anything, anything at all, to make up for his shameful past. 
I briefly explained WHAM to him, leaving out all the spending and governance proposals, and he expressed his full support. In fact he said, and I quote, ‘I’m your man!’ and invited me to some bar called ‘Club Tropicana’ for a drink to celebrate. So it’s a sure thing! 

A: Do you have anyone in mind to head WHAM? It’s a prestigious appointment. 
M: I do, as a matter of fact. My sister. 
A: You’ve got to be joking! She doesn’t work in health. 
M: That’s not strictly true. She worked at a health spa for a week. And, she has first-hand experience of the health system as a patient. Was in hospital for two days last year getting an in-grown toenail removed. Shocking it was, she said. Had to share a room with three others, only one TV and you couldn’t uber in a takeaway. 
A: OK, granted. But you still can’t appoint her because she’s family...that’s nepotism! 
M: Don’t swear at me! Anyway, I appointed you, and you’re as good as family! 
Besides, I hardly see my sis these days so we’re virtually estranged. Bottom line - I promised her a job when I got promoted. Then there’s my two brothers and six cousins still to be sorted yet. It’s hard being a leader, you know! 

M: Right! Last but not least...for today anyway. 
We need to do something about the shocking state of water quality in this country. 
A: I agree! There are definitely some serious issues, mostly stemming from under-investment in infrastructure. This could be a great policy to unite everyone. 
M: Now you’ve lost me! 
This is actually an excellent opportunity to acknowledge that Whersthia have a greater right to water, or more correctly water assets, because of their cultural bond and affinity with the environment. 

A: Are you really saying that we have more rights over water than everyone else? 
M: Absolutely! And that is why I’m proposing, with councils’ permission, that we confiscate all local authority water assets - drinking water, wastewater and stormwater. All three waters, in fact. Hey, that’s quite catchy - I might use it! 
Then we set up four new publicly owned mega-corporations, which will have 50% Whersthia representation on their boards and give us an effective veto over all decision-making. 
No reason why we shouldn’t claim a royalty for all our hard work. Turn on the tap or flush the loo and cha-ching! 

A: And what if the councils don’t agree? 
M: Look. There'll be an extensive consultation and feedback period. And, I’ve written a report showing ratepayers will save about half of what water costs them now….but only after 30 years, so no one will remember if my sums are a tad on the unrealistic side. 
Plus, these new water corporations will employ significantly more people than the councils do at present, so it’s good for jobs. I’ve already started advertising the new positions. 

A: Questions! How will there be big cost savings if the workforce increases? And, what happens if councils don’t want to opt-in? 
M: You clearly didn’t study Economics & Socialism at university, like me. And, to make sure - your favourite word - I used a computer model that’s been designed by our experts to support all my figures. You only have to enter two outputs - the amount of savings you want and the number of extra jobs created - and it whirs away and spits out a fully justified, peer-reviewed analysis. 
A: I thought you entered inputs to computer models and they calculated the outputs. Aren’t you doing it the wrong way round? 
M: Stop nit-picking Aru! This way’s much quicker and more accurate. 
As for the councils, they’ll be gagging to sign up. They better be because it’s already been approved by Cabinet, but that doesn’t leave this room - are we clear? 
If they don’t, I’ll just legislate over their heads and show them who’s boss. 

A: Where are you getting all these new radical policy ideas from? 
M: Ah, well I got a bunch of my mates, who have been appointed to top jobs in government departments, universities and policy think-tanks, to get together and write a report with recommendations on how best to give Whersthia our “fair share”. 
You won’t have heard of it because it’s currently locked in my bottom drawer, but when I’m alone I get it out and pick a few policies at a time so as not to scare the sheep...sorry, Aotsida. 
A: What’s the report called? 
M: I thought of this title myself - GIVE US A BREAK.  What do you think?
A: Doesn’t sound very ethnic. 
M: It’s hard to translate into Whersthia but one of my mates reckons Hoatu He Puapua, or something like that. 

A: But how do you justify all these new policies that blatantly favour Whersthia over everyone else and give us 50% of everything, when we only make up 17% of the population? 
M: That’s easy! We’re now officially indigenous, so that’s automatic gold-card status for a start. And, the Treaty was written in our language so only we know what the words really mean. 
Remember, we only got a written language after Aotsida wrote it down for us. They’re bound to have made some mistakes. I just claim that certain keywords were used incorrectly or were mis-interpreted by them when the Treaty was signed and we can pretty much have it mean anything we want.

 “The critical point we have to keep making is that the Treaty is a partnership, which entitles us to half of everything.” 

M: Eventually, we’ll have our own parliament and can rename our country and all the places in it with Whersthia names, but I don’t want to be too greedy too soon. It’s got so much potential! 
Couple that with all the woke bullshit dominating politics these days and nobody dares question me. Even the Opposition are too scared to speak up.
A: I’ve read the Treaty, and there ain’t no partnership in it! Innit? 
M: You’ve not read the culturally competent interpretation I commissioned. In that new, improved version, which has been sanctioned by a high-level judicial panel of recently appointed Wherstia judges, partnership is clearly inferred several times. 

A: Surely, this will create division and breed discontent and animosity amongst Aotsida. The very fact we use that term to describe our fellow citizens says a lot about us. 
Maewe, we’re only a small minority you know and as far as I can see we’re treated at least as fairly as every other group in society. Of course, there are always things to improve on but focusing on just us, to the exclusion of all others - who make up the vast majority by the way - does seem like a recipe for disaster! 
We live in a democracy Maewe, or so I thought before this meeting started. Do you want to start a revolution? 
My advice would be to take that report in your bottom drawer and burn it. Then concentrate on policies which focus on everyone, regardless of race

M: Well Aru, I think we’re done for the day. 
In fact, I think you’re done for good! You clearly don’t share my vision to make this country great….for us. 
A: For once I totally agree with you Maewe. You’ll get no argument from me. And I suspect I’m not the only Whersthia that thinks that way. 

 Maewe turned her back on her friend and, looking out of her window at the newly installed and very expensive Wherstia artwork dominating the entrance to parliament, said:- 

M: This parliamentary term promises to be remembered for my leadership in securing power, rights, wealth, land and resources for Whersthia, far in excess of what is proportional and equitable in a truly democratic society. 
A great achievement, you must agree, Aru? 
A: Sorry Maewe, I’ve already agreed with you once and that’s once too often. 
But I do have one last question - are you sure…? 

 And just like Maewe and Aru’s friendship, the country was split apart, and riven with separatism, privilege, inequity and favouritism. 
A stark lesson for us all! 

Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.


Doug Longmire said...

That is a brilliant skit Derek.
Unfortunately - as we all can plainly see - it is an accurate portrayal of what is actually happening in our once proud and free nation !!

Empathic said...

I remember this story told by Derek. I think it was later discovered through indigenous scientific methodology that Maewe had already lived for 1200 years and had been the one who fished up the North Island which actually had been named Te Ika-a-Maewe but the name was changed to Maui by the imperial invaders. The school curriculum was quickly rectified accordingly. An historian who questioned that account and a couple of scientists who preposterously claimed that Te Ika-a-Maewe arose from some process involving a 'tectonic plate', are all now serving lengthy prison sentences. Imagine! The idea that the North Island was served up on a plate! Lucky we have indisputable Wheresthia knowledge to provide us with reliable truth.