Maybe Ed didn’t care – but we should
There’s heavy, embarrassing and unfortunate irony in the government decision to back a Hillary Shield as a trophy for rugby tests between England and the All Blacks.
Particularly since the name of the greatest New Zealander of our age was conveniently and inexplicably dropped when the government sports body took on that new and nonsensical Sparc label.
This replaced an irreplaceable and significant title of the Hillary Commission.
What other nation would have treated an international hero and symbol so shabbily?
As a test of the stupidity of that decision, how many of the thousands who head for Twickenham for the first Hillary memorial match this month would have any idea what Sparc stands for? Nor would they believe that we could be as crass and stupid as our leaders were in making or endorsing that clanger.
For the record: Sport and Recreation New Zealand – known as Sparc – was formed in 2002 following the merger of the Hillary Commission, the New Zealand Sports Foundation and the policy arm of the Office of Tourism and Sport.
It was developed after Sport, Fitness and Leisure Minister Trevor Mallard – a familiar name but a somewhat muted voice in the current election circus – set up an in-depth investigation into sport and recreation.
Former All Black and Auckland Grammar head John Graham led a nationwide inquiry, the Graham Taskforce.
Everything from lack of coaches, volunteers, facilities and international sporting success to a need to do more for the overweight and elderly went on the agenda. The shadows of some of those topics are still around with Push Play programmes.
The final report pointed to lack of integration, coordination and leadership in sport and physical recreation and recommended the new super agency, Sparc, be formed.
And, in that strange process, the great Hillary name got the high jump. Now, in what could be seen as some sort of belated atonement, as well as the Hillary Shield and a Sir Edmund Hillary Fellowship, Helen Clark has announced that: • The Young New Zealanders Challenge of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award will in future incorporate Sir Ed’s name • The government will up its annual grant to Ed’s Himalayan Trust by $60,000 a year to $350,000 • And, irony of ironies, a Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Recreation Council is planned by, of all people, the policy-makers who run Sparc.
As a nation, we should demand that they go the whole way now, do an overdue backflip and rebrand themselves with the name which means so much and which officialdom chose so late in his lifetime to demean.
We mourn the Hillary Commission.
And while they’re at it, I could well be the only one believing whoever is in the various Wellington driving seats after Saturday’s big vote should look again at that decision to scrap yet another historic relic – those prestigious letters QC which so many barristers have sought and envied.
New 21st century versions of a centuries-old tradition which allow leading lawyers to be called Queen’s – or King’s Counsel, depending who was on the throne – are now known as Senior Counsel.
Current holders can still be called QC but will also be able to use SC if they prefer. It will be interesting to see how many make that choice.
To drop into traditional court talk: “If Your Honour pleases I am instructed by online sources that such titles date back 500 years – give or take the odd decade – and that they were appointed by letters patent to be one of ‘Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law’. They wore a distinctive silk gown, hence the shorthand for such an appointment ‘taking silk’.
“I am also instructed by the same electronic records that the first Queen’s Counsel ‘Extraordinary’ was one, Sir Francis Bacon, with a patent giving him precedence at the Bar in 1597, and formally styled King’s Counsel in 1603 (reference WS Holdsworth, History of English Law (1938) vi 4734).”
M aybe no one else cares, but I have respect for our shared history and I’m sad to see another of the last vestiges of a great past discarded so readily.
Presumably, the equally antique and historic title of prime minister could be the next to go, to instead get that bland and unhistoric “senior minister” label. But I somehow doubt that. In case you’re curious, I don’t imagine the change of title means a lowering of fees.
My vote got his votes – all 60 of them. One reaction to last week’s column “He’s my man” send-up on US and NZ campaigning: “Pat, I loved your spoof. I’ve sent it to everyone in my address book – about 60.” – Eastern Courier reader Brian Metcalf
A PS also in the pre-US election mailbag:
“David Williams’ letter about Fannie and Freddie has the facts 180 degrees wrong. The truth is that it was the Republicans and John McCain who tried to legislate greater control of FM and FM, only to be defeated by the Democrats.
“The latter forced the US banking system to relax its lending rules to enable ‘the poor’ to borrow for houses even though they couldn’t afford it. Sanctions were created to punish reluctant banks. FM and FM were enlisted, and when they, the banks, and Wall St capitulated and enthusiastically embraced the low-quality loan movement, the eventual outcome is now plain to see.
“But let’s get this straight: It was the Democrats’ philosophical motivation that brought all this about. Then when some wiser Republican heads tried to apply the brakes, the Dems prevented it. Okay, don’t take my word for it. Instead read the articles on the subject in the London publications The Spectator and The Independent on: www.tinyurl. com/3pt3ch and www.tiny url.com/3g2h6d.
“Of course, Wall St, the banks and FM and FM made a killing out of the flood of new mortgage applications. I don’t condone that but let’s be clear that the root cause was the removal of prudent lending limits by those who thought they could disregard history.
“It was the misguided or possibly arrogant attempt by the proponents of the subprime loans concept that set the climate for the spectre of thousands of people being sucked into a deadly financial vortex from which they could never escape.
“To me, those activists responsible for this theory were like commission salesmen standing on a river-bank exhorting hopeful people to jump into the fast-moving current believing they would survive and eventually reach calm waters. Many of them drowned.” – John Spicer