Fair and square.

FRESH- UP The Septem­ber is­sue seemed Vogue- ishly well suited for a de­sign re­fresh. As well as art di­rec­tor Jenny Ni­cholls’ el­e­gant page makeovers, you’ll see clean new fonts through­out, which also come “macron­loaded” to in­di­cate the cor­rect pro­nun­ci­a­tion

North & South - - Contents - • Graeme’s me­moir is for sale only via a con­tri­bu­tion to the Brain­wave Trust (sug­gested dona­tion $30 plus $5 postage). Email gj­mac@pl.net. Vir­ginia Lar­son


two days in a row. I’m re­ally a wholegrain bread per­son, but there’s some­thing ir­re­sistible about club sand­wiches: those soft, crust-less savoury lay­ers. They’re a bit old-fash­ioned – in a good way – rem­i­nis­cent of church hall gath­er­ings and com­mu­nity ob­ser­vances.

And so it was they ap­peared, twice, on a sunny-show­ery Auck­land week­end at the end of July. The Satur­day af­ter­noon event I at­tended was a me­mo­rial for a col­league’s mother: “… a gath­er­ing to share laugh­ter and mem­o­ries of a large life well lived”. It was held in a sec­u­lar space, small and pretty, that even with­out re­li­gious sym­bols still man­aged to feel spir­i­tual – cer­tainly cel­e­bra­tory of the hu­man spirit, among the sto­ries, po­etry, laugh­ter and tears for Shirley.

On Sun­day, I joined friends and sup­port­ers of Graeme Mac­cormick – and what seemed the en­tire con­gre­ga­tion from St An­drew’s Church – at the ad­ja­cent hall to launch the for­mer judge’s me­moir, Rec­ol­lec­tions and Re­flec­tions.

Graeme wrote an essay for North & South in 2011 and we’ve stayed in touch. In his opin­ion piece, The Dam­age Done, he made a case for the uni­ver­sal mon­i­tor­ing of ev­ery baby born in New Zealand, and in­ter­ven­ing when nec­es­sary. It was writ­ten out of com­pas­sion, but also from the coal­face per­spec­tive of 16 years on the bench of the Fam­ily Court, ob­serv­ing a re­lent­less toll of child abuse and ne­glect. Then and now, he con­tin­ues to cham­pion the work of the Brain­wave Trust, which has done much to raise aware­ness of re­search into brain de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially the cru­cial first three years of a child’s life when the brain is still wiring up, lay­ing the foun­da­tions for adult life.

Af­ter the sand­wiches and clink­ing of church hall teacups, there was a warm, heart­felt in­tro­duc­tion from Judy Bai­ley – yes, the Judy Bai­ley, who’s on the Brain­wave Trust board. Graeme fol­lowed with his “sup­ple­men­tary com­ments”, be­gin­ning with an ex­pla­na­tion of why his faith oc­cu­pies the front sec­tion of his book, with per­sonal me­moir at the end.

For non- re­li­gious me, Graeme rep­re­sents Chris­tian faith at its best. My dips into his book con­firm him to be a man of hu­mil­ity, kind­ness and open- mind­ed­ness; his de­ci­sions both as a judge and hu­man rights com­mis­sioner would have been firm when they needed to be, and al­ways fair and thought­ful. For all the sad, sorry, ve­nal cases that have passed be­fore him, he’s never lost his be­lief that we can change the tra­jec­tory of all our chil­dren’s lives – and build a better New Zealand. His com­ment at the book launch, “Those with an abused or ne­glected start, who end up ag­grieved and with noth­ing to lose, will al­ways pose a dan­ger, and a cost, to so­ci­ety” is echoed in Paul Lit­tle’s piece in this is­sue. In The Case for Clos­ing Pris­ons (page 44), the con­nec­tion be­tween early harm and our shame­ful in­car­cer­a­tion rates is made by a num­ber of ex­pert in­ter­vie­wees.

I ask Graeme if he’s at­tend­ing An­drew Lit­tle’s jus­tice sum­mit in August. He’s not, but says he’s a sup­porter of Lit­tle and his han­dling of the jus­tice port­fo­lio. “While he was leader of the Op­po­si­tion, I wrote to him a cou­ple of times and his replies gave the clear im­pres­sion he was re­spond­ing per­son­ally, not hav­ing had the let­ters writ­ten for him – as has ap­peared to be the case with al­most ev­ery other po­lit­i­cal re­sponse I’ve ever re­ceived.”

I pester Graeme fur­ther by email, as our print dead­line co­in­cides with the visit of Cana­dian far-right ac­tivists Lauren South­ern and Ste­fan Molyneux, re­cently banned by Mayor Phil Goff from speak­ing at Auck­land Coun­cil venues, and the sub­ject of much heated de­bate over free speech and hate speech. It seems the sort of is­sue that might well end up in front of a hu­man rights com­mis­sioner. Graeme replies that he’s not stud­ied the pair’s views suf­fi­ciently to be de­fin­i­tive in his com­ments, but adds: “If the mayor thinks their views do not sit com­fort­ably with the cul­ture of tol­er­ance and in­clu­sive­ness that Auck­land is try­ing to pro­mote, then I have no prob­lem with say­ing they’re not wel­come to use coun­cil-owned venues. The down­side is the pub­lic­ity it gives them.

“Peo­ple’s hu­man rights fre­quently com­pete, and it be­comes nec­es­sary to strike a bal­ance. Gen­er­ally, I favour peo­ple be­ing able to say pretty much what they want, with the rub­bish just be­ing ig­nored – or rather what I re­gard as rub­bish. A re­sponse usu­ally only in­di­cates that you re­gard the com­ments wor­thy of re­sponse. But ac­tu­ally, in­cit­ing racial or re­li­gious ha­tred is an­other mat­ter. Where you draw the line is al­ways dif­fi­cult...”

Had he been tasked, you know Graeme Mac­cormick would have drawn that line – straight, fair and prin­ci­pled. +

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