Bhadge

datePosted on 23:12, December 19th, 2009 by Lew

I’ve been very busy again this past week, and so the list of things I want to write about copiously exceeds my ability to write about them. My promised post about internecine disputes is in very early draft form but I’ll try and get it finished soon. I still have a post planned looking at the wider implications of the foreshore and seabed review, but I think that’ll have to wait until after I’ve painted the roof.

yep_im_a_redneck_button-p145980559379977550q37f_400I also wanted to write a lot about the final outcome of the h debate, but find that my views have already been pretty well encapsulated by Andrew Geddis and Idiot/Savant. You should also read Scott Hamilton’s latest on the wider topic of Pākehā separatism.

Given that the decision declares both ‘Wanganui’ and ‘Whanganui’ correct, but mandates crown usage of ‘Whanganui’, there’s as clear an implicit statement as can be that the latter is more correct than the former. This has been clearly understood by TVNZ and Radio NZ, who have adopted the latter usage as a matter of editorial policy. They are owned by the crown, after all, and both just happen to be in direct competition with Laws and his media employer. Permitting both spellings but making this declaration as to primacy was a move as shrewd as it was elegant by Maurice Williamson — similarly to John Key’s decision to permit the flying of a Māori flag if only Māori could agree on one. Michael Laws, Tariana Turia and Ken Mair have all claimed victory, so everyone with an actual stake is nominally happy. The Standardistas and the KBR are furious, which is a pretty good sign. It obviates the strongest symbolic position occupied by Laws, the idea that Wellington is coercing Wanganui into doing its PC bidding. Wellington need not — the rest of the country will do that, because the use of the no-h word will be an identity marker, a statement, like a badge; not quite “Yep, I’m a redneck” but something approaching it. The thing is that Laws and his rump of greying die-hards do not simply face a disorganised and discredited bunch of radical natives; they find themselves standing against the inexorable tide of civil society and its evolution, a youthful and browning population for whom biculturalism is the norm and separatism stopped being cool a generation ago (if it ever was).

Who knew that all Michael Laws wanted for his cause was an emasculating partial endorsement and a prolonged death sentence? He could have saved everyone (and his own reputation) a great deal of trouble by making this plain at the beginning. In other circumstances, I would be angry about everyone having been taken for a ride — but as it stands, I’m mostly just quietly pleased that civil society’s tendency toward self-correction will be left to do its thing.

L

4 Responses to “Bhadge”

  1. Tiger Mountain on December 20th, 2009 at 14:54

    In the North, for Whangarei (putting it in somewhat butchered english phonetic form) farmers/tories usually say “Wonger-ray” (hard g), people making an ‘effort’ inclusive of visitors say “Fonger-ray (softish g)” and many Maori and some pakeha say ”Faanga-rey” (soft g).

    Excuse my mangled outline but the upshot is you can discern with some accuracy where someone is coming from with their use of this one place name.

  2. ak on December 20th, 2009 at 17:16

    …society’s tendency towards self-correction…

    You’re onto it Lew. The goodies always win in the end – the inexorable tide of progression eventually dissolves the pitiful sandcastles of fear and self-interest (I’ll refrain from saying who predicted this..)

    Frustrating in the meantime but (especially for those tide-watchers whose own sands are running thin!), as the powerful opinion-moulders stoop to new lows: recall the disgusting media campaign against something as inherently noble and innocuous as Closing the Gaps (incidentally and ironically now cracking along apace in various spheres with impunity – try to understand the Left’s chagrin – but you’re right they need to get over it, and quick) – and it took the Taranaki Daily News 20 years to print those dangerously subversive words “Mt Taranaki”.
    And yep, Tiger, that self-branding factor is why some will still eschew the forecast from Jim “Mt Egmont” Hickey (that and the TV3 job has more appealing er.. aesthetic qualities, shall we say..)

  3. Rich on December 27th, 2009 at 18:30

    Actually, you can call anywhere anything, at the risk of nobody knowing what you’re on about.

    “Rotovegas” isn’t an official name, but various businesses use it.

  4. [...] ILF changed so rapidly and so completely. I’m left feeling much like I did when Michael Laws claimed victory about the h when the result of the government’s decision would be to establish Whanganui as a [...]

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