Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 16. September 8th 1971
Chris Halliwell is a Cambridge University student in political science and law, who spent two months this year working in New Zealand.
Crisis of disaster proportions has recently hit New Zealand — her national religion (not God) is in tatters — her workingmen have been denied their traditional form of sustinence for a considerable amount of time — and her main source of income has been gravely threatened. But lo, what do New Zealanders continue to discuss but — God and sex. Admirable in moderation but hardly likely to save the country's economy, halt the chance of racial trouble or bring equality of opportunity to rich and poor, Pakeha and Maori alike.
Equality of opportunity is looked upon by some as Socialist but in fact Disraeli in the 19th century was allegedly striving for this goal. Equality of opportunity combined with an attack on racial discrimination of any kind will solve the basic problems between Maori and Pakeha. Teaching Pakeha how to speak Maori is no answer — it is the middle-class method of evading what ought to be done. Appreciation of the Maori culture and way of life is important but more so is to create the environment in which Maoris can advance their education and hence increase their earning power. This in short means higher family allowances to allow children to stay at school longer, better housing leading to better health and attendance and performance at school and at the place of work.
This naturally will mean sacrifices on the part of the pakeha but the slogan should be "pay now or pay more later." The explosive situation could easily worsen and bloodshed would replace prosperity.
Some Kiwis will look down Queen St. in Auckland, Lambton Quay in Wellington or High St. in Christchurch and talk of equality. They have omitted to look at Ponsenby or Porirua. It would take a thick-skinned person to talk about equality there. Education for all, even through university is fine, but how about a consideration of the house in which the child lives and the economic climate to make him or her stay at school beyond fifteen. This not only applies to Maoris but also to Pakehas.
New Zealand has always in the past had a reputation for humanitarianism towards the less fortunate but she must now see that she does not lose this amidst the indignant cries from farmers over Maori crime rates — polarisation of the races will help nobody.
Rather a genuine attempt to help Maoris and Islanders to acclimatise to city life. The threat of fines and prison will be useless in this respect but guidance from social workers will be all-important.
New Zealand is entering a difficult phase as far as social policies are concerned. In a few years time she could well be dealing with a more substantial drift of population from the land as her traditional source of income becomes more and more unreliable. She will be diversifying her use of other land and also her use of labour. The social effects of such a change must be examined. Planning must take into account education, health, transport and housing facilities to cope with ever-increasing urban populations.
The problem of increasing leisure-time must also be looked at. How will a country so short of culture be able to adjust to live a sophisticated urban life? Boredom in the cities is one of the main causes of madness.
A culture must be created by encouraging artists, architects, writers and musicians. At the moment New Zealand's feeling of nationhood goes little further than the All Black jersey. A national culture could be a means of escaping from American influence on New Zealand life.
But this nationalism must not be isolationism. It must be outward-looking, especially in respect of the South Pacific area. She must foster prosperity there for this is where New Zealand's responsibility lies.
The visitor to New Zealand will on arrival be asked what he thinks of the country. Having seen hardly anything beyond the airport tarmac this question isn't too difficult but must not on any account be skated round. The vital answer of approval must be given if Kiwi abuse to the "pommie bastard" is to be avoided. One gains a feeling that New Zealanders are unsure of their position in the world. An approving answer from a visitor will put them a step up on the Poms, Yanks and Aussies. The lack of confidence is dispelled.
New Zealanders talk of living in a rural community and yet one quarter of the population lives in Auckland whilst vast numbers inhabit the other three main centres.
One talks of humanity and yet where is the national health service; what of the conditions of staff and patients at Oakley; the riots at Mt. Eden prison; and the lack of maths and science teachers at school? What humanity is there in Muldoon, who more then most represents the majority.
No, humanity has gone as the farmers, workers and employers all display their aggressive attitude and social standards are turned aside.
The burden therefore rests on those in education, social work and the Church to help the underdog; to see past the profit margin and the pay-packet and to witness and expose the human indignities being suffered by the old, sick and needy. It is these that the New Zealanders would rather paper over with the help of the visitors. A country where insurance companies profit from the sickness of others and where means tests are prevalent must view its social philosophy closely.