Get a grip, Nehe, or find your­self a new gripe

The Dominion Post - - Opinion -

Iapol­o­gise in ad­vance for us­ing up 700 words on the breath­less over-re­ac­tion of a for­mer All Black but Nehe Mil­nerSkud­der can’t side­step this one.

Nehe is sad. Nehe is upset. And ap­par­ently I’m to blame. I’ll stop short of say­ing sorry be­cause on this one I’m ac­tu­ally not. I can of­fer coun­selling, though. Just let me know, Nehe.

Nehe’s in­ter­nal brain fart only strength­ens my re­solve to high­light why I think Nehe is a meek pup­pet for some­one else try­ing to push an agenda that has no place in a pro­vin­cial Santa pa­rade.

Firstly, Nehe, far too much drama in the over-re­ac­tion. It’s a Santa pa­rade, and some overzeal­ous PC freak from the coun­cil over­thought it. Ev­ery­one was too clever and for­got about the lit­tle kids want­ing to see Santa. That’s the main game, right? But no, some­one gave some­one a wide brief and was cap­tured by their own delu­sions.

They got a Wil­lie Api­ata-look­ing bloke who looked like the wel­com­ing party at the foyer of TVNZ. Or Work and In­come. Or the Min­istry for Cul­ture and Her­itage. Or in­deed the Min­istry of Dumb Ideas.

All they wanted was Santa. Santa is for kids, Nehe. They want to see Santa at the Santa pa­rade. Bit like see­ing an­i­mals at the zoo, I sup­pose. Kids were left dazed and con­fused, and some were cry­ing.

Spoiler alert: dis­cussing fat guy in a red suit with beard, fat gut and gum­boots . . . an­swers to the name Santa . . . al­ways has, al­ways will. Never dresses up in any other tra­di­tional cloth­ing, not known to be Ma¯ ori, Chi­nese, Mon­go­lian or In­dian. He’s Santa. Can be any­thing un­der­neath, but he’s Santa.

Any­way, so it goes like this. I see Santa dressed as a mid­dle-aged Ma¯ ori man in the Nel­son Santa Pa­rade. No Santa uni­form. So I say: ‘‘Ma¯ ori don’t own ev­ery­thing.’’

Flip­pant, yes. Per­haps I should have said: Why do Ma¯ ori have to be at the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing?

But Nehe, or who­ever writes his stuff, went into breath­less melt­down, but not be­fore I’d said this: ‘‘What a com­plete hoax and what a joke. Who was the per­son be­hind this?

‘‘You need to have a beard to have Santa, you need to have a Santa suit on. And sorry, turn­ing up with a ko­rowai? You got this so wrong, Nel­son. You couldn’t have been more wrong.

‘‘The kids weren’t there to see a Ma¯ ori Santa. Santa’s very dif­fer­ent to Ma¯ ori – Ma¯ ori don’t have to own ev­ery­thing. Santa is Santa, and Santa’s not bro­ken.’’

Fair? Oh no. Mil­ner-Skud­der said peo­ple who have a platform need to be mind­ful of the things they say in the me­dia, and he called my com­ments ‘‘dis­re­spect­ful and dis­gust­ing’’.

He then said: ‘‘In say­ing that, peo­ple like Dun­can Garner and oth­ers who have com­mented on this mat­ter need to be MIND­FUL of the things they say. You have a platform so you can have an opin­ion, but you don’t need to make cer­tain com­ments.’’

Oh come on, Nehe, find a real cause or is­sue to get so upset about. Try crit­i­cis­ing your fel­low Super Rugby play­ers for abus­ing strip­pers, bash­ing members of the pub­lic, or uri­nat­ing in pub­lic. But if it’s eas­ier to stay silent on those is­sues, like you all do, then back the cops over their ex­clu­sion from Pride, or maybe take a stand on child abuse or the stub­bornly high rates of Ma¯ ori still smok­ing.

But then Santa be­comes linked to coloni­sa­tion and Nehe thinks, yes, Garner, take that! He writes: ‘‘Of course we don’t own ev­ery­thing, it was taken at coloni­sa­tion and we’ve failed as a coun­try to truly un­der­stand Ma¯ ori cul­ture and in turn that means we’ve failed to re­dress those wrongs.’’

Nehe, coloni­sa­tion and blam­ing the white guy for those ob­vi­ous crimes and theft against your peo­ple are be­ing ad­dressed. They have been for 30 years. It’s not per­fect by any means. And, yes, too many Pa¯ keha¯ have failed to show an in­ter­est in Ma¯ oridom, but that’s chang­ing. This is about Santa, though, not an es­say to im­press diplo­mats at the UN book awards.

I sup­pose tone is im­por­tant too, to en­cour­age pos­i­tive re­la­tions. Your ag­gro, blame-the-white guy ap­proach turns us Pa¯ keha¯ off. We’re too po­lite to say so, but I sus­pect on this one peo­ple are telling you to stick it.

Also, if you knew the slight­est bit about me and my back­ground, you may have al­tered your view that some­how I have lit­tle re­gard for things Ma¯ ori. Try Google, e hoa. Kia ora ra.

Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der is sad. Nehe is upset. And ap­par­ently Dun­can Garner is to blame.

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