Lost in trans­la­tion

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

Ten years ago I bad­gered Mike King, one of my Maori mates, into tag­ging along with me to the treaty grounds for Wai­tangi Day.

Mike, as you’ll know from TV or from his live shows as a standup co­me­dian, is a man of strong views, and some­times strong and un­couth words too.

He had it in mind that Wai­tangi would be un­ap­peal­ing be­cause judg­ing from me­dia re­ports over the years there would be protests galore and ugly con­fronta­tions with the cops.

So why go and get caught up in that?

I’d told him that even in the darker days there was an­other side, one that most of us have been fa­mil­iar with in New Zealand – Maori and non-Maori en­joy­ing one an­other’s com­pany and the pic­nic at­mos­phere.

He dis­cov­ered that for him­self and now says it was a turn­ing point in his life be­cause he was able to see Kiwi so­ci­ety in a dif­fer­ent and more pos­i­tive light.

He could see more clearly the mis­chief­mak­ing of the main­stream me­dia when it re­peat­edly pre­sented Maori ac­tivists as a neg­a­tive, evil force when, in fact, many of them were sim­ply en­gaged in a gutsy bat­tle for jus­tice and a fair go.

He could see the courage, good hu­mour and open­ness of peo­ple like Tame Iti and Hone and Hilda Harawira.

And he heard from TV One’s Mark Sains­bury the lame jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the me­dia’s neg­a­tiv­ity: “Good news doesn’t sell.”

For­tu­nately there have been some ef­forts since then by the me­dia to un­der­stand Wai­tangi and the scale of Maori griev­ances.

They’ve tried to use the ex­per­tise of Maori journos, and with Maori now able to flex some mus­cle in Welling­ton by way of the Maori Party, there’s not the same need for pro­test­ers to make a song and dance.

Mean­while Mike is do­ing his bit to com­bat decades of me­dia and school­room mis­in­for­ma­tion.

He’s pre­sent­ing a 10part se­ries called Lost In Trans­la­tion on the Maori chan­nel on Sun­day nights. It ze­roes in on the treaty sign­ing in 1840.

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