Sunday, July 22, 2012
We the people
Call me picky, but when John Key says 'We would utterly dispute that Maori own water,' I get an uneasy feeling. Not just because of the opinion expressed (that's another story) but because of the plural pronoun. Sure, we all talk about Maori and Pakeha, and the water-rights case before the Waitangi Tribunal is being brought by the Maori Council, but when the prime minister speaks he speaks for the government of the nation; he speaks for us all. Who exactly does he mean when he says 'we'? As prime minister he ought to mean all of us—Maori, Pakeha, whoever's a New Zealander. Yet the way he uses it suggests he's speaking for Pakeha as opposed to Maori. It is possible I am being insanely pedantic here. But something about that 'we' troubles me. Karl du Fresne says the big question raised by the claim is 'Are we one people, or are we not?' and although I'm not sure he means it in the sense I mean it, if we truly are one people, represented by one elected government, then the nation's leader must speak as if it is so. He must find a better way of expressing these things. Tricky call. Over to you, John.
Posted by Denis Welch at Sunday, July 22, 2012