Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009: Eggs and haka, haka and eggs

Incredible, edible eggs: Front page news today about eggs, people. I assume they refer mainly to chicken eggs, although it is never made clear - quite possibly this applies to ostrich eggs, kiwi eggs, Easter eggs etc. Apparently past research into eggs is wrong, and they are not 'bright yellow cholesterol bombs' that that various peer-reviewed studies have claimed. That's what the latest peer-reviewed study claims.

Obviously I haven't read the study in question, and if I had I wouldn't have understood it anyway, but this seems to me just another example of the atrocious science reporting in the Herald (although, in this case, the Herald steals the story wholesale from the Telegraph - a front page story!). I now await the next report, about how actually eggs are bad for you, so for god's sake don't eat them. Drink lots of red wine; don't drink any red wine. You need to exercise more; but not that much exercise, you'll die! So forgive me if I don't change my lifestyle based on one article.

To add to my frustration, the Herald's contribution to this article was putting pictures of eggs next to the text - just in case eggs' legendary cholesterol content manifested such extreme ovophobia that you had been unable to so much as look at them before, and were therefore unable to conjure up the necessary mental image to attach to the story.

Much ado about haka: Remember when Maori took all our stuff, and wouldn't let us use it again? Oh, that's right, that never happened - but you wouldn't know it from the Herald's reporting of the proposed Ngati Toa Treaty of Waitangi settlement. After some pretty sensationalist reporting over the past few days, the Herald today assures New Zealanders that they will not have to pay up "if they're having a game of backyard cricket and decide they want to do Ka Mate". Firstly, who the hell does a haka when they're playing backyard cricket? Second, although that was a quote from John Key, the Herald turn what was pretty clearly a throwaway line from the PM into a confrontational headline. The implication, of course, is that this is exactly what Maori would love to do. Of course, even if they wanted to, they couldn't - if I want to sing Dreadlock Holiday, Hotel California or Puttin' on the Ritz during backyard cricket, no one is going to stop me, both for legal and practical reasons. So even though there is no possible danger here, the Herald decide to make not only a point of it, but the point of it. You may have heard of this phenomenon before - it's called 'sexing up'. In case you missed it, the original article a couple of days ago was accompanied by a vaguely offensive cartoon depicting a traditional Maori performer singing, "Ka mate, ka mate/ Dollar, dollar." If one bothered to read the actual text, it was made clear that Maori weren't seeking to profit from Ka Mate's use - but by then the point had been made.

The biggest issue here, however, is the continued worry, reinforced by the reporting of the media, that these kind of settlements are intended to shaft pakeha (non-Maori New Zealanders). Just because if we gave control of Mt Taranaki to some property developer from Howick we would turn up to find toll booths all around the bottom and a mall at the summit, doesn't mean that iwi (tribes) are going to do the same. The furore over the foreshore and seabed issue was largely down to the mistaken idea that Maori would control all NZ's beaches, and therefore could and would restrict our access. Of course it meant neither the former nor the latter - but that didn't stop inflammatory reporting and, eventually, knee-jerk legislation. Look at Bastion Pt in Auckland - Muldoon's government wanted to sell this prime land overlooking the harbour to developers for high-income housing until the occupation by local iwi and their supporters forced a reconsideration. Now in Maori hands, it largely remains parkland open the public - not something that could be said of it had it been covered in McMansions. Why we should think that Ngati Toa will do anything outrageous with Ka Mate, even-if-they-could-but-they-can't, I have no idea.

Of course, this combination of Maori-bashing and 'threatening' our rugby culture is like mixing caesium and water in the beaker that is "Your Views". Here are just a few comments from the responsible citizens who work out their frustrations therein*:

stormer 83 (New South Wales): Don't be fooled there will be some kind of scam which is not published in the newspapaers. It may not even be money they ask for but a few hectares of land or something. They will for something for nothing like usual. Dedicated to all those who think they aren't asking for something.

Huggiebear (Ellerslie): Political correctness to death is what it is ... Anyway if these people are charging royalties for a haka it is truly over the top. I doubt its true, but if it is its Mr Key trying to look after his new friends. Time for the charade to end, so Mr Key is all chubby chubby with the Brorocracy. Anyway this Ngati Moaning tribe and Ngati Moneygrabber tribe will get their cme uppance when they see their pakeha friends and relations forking out to do it. Utter codswallop,

Mic Cossell (Queensland): People all over the world would be saying what is a Maori right now if it wasn't for the All Blacks doing the haka. They should pay money to whomever run the All Blacks for doing the haka. It has been some of the best advertising for New Zealand and the Maori's. It isn't yours to give away, you don't want us to perform it then forget about you. How about you give back to New Zealand for once instead of take take take.

Good job, Herald. Give these people ammunition, and then give them a forum to communicate their ridiculous opinions. You're really doing a good job of advancing dialogue.

*As I copy-and-paste all "Your Views" from the Herald website, all grammar and spelling errors are the original contributor's, not mine. My contributions remain the 'research' and humorous juxtaposition.

Late edit: Christ, the haka story has even made it into the Guardian. I swear they didn't even mention the NZ election (I was there at the time), but this made it in. Still, the story is much better than the one in the Herald - even if the headline is ungrammatical ("Maoris") and a bit confrontational.

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