Thursday, 20 September 2018

1. The Pacific Islanders: "leeches" that "don't matter"

In this first part of a series of three,  Newstalk ZB commentator Helen du Plessis-Allan offers her opinions on the relationship between Pacific Islanders and New Zealand.

Part-Afrikaner Helen du Plessis-Allan, who emigrated to NZ aged 12, proudly wrote an anti-apartheid essay before leaving South Africa  and just as proudly recalls mixing with Maori and Pasifika students at her decile  2 Auckland secondary school.   

She professes a life-long interest in politics and admits enjoyment in reminding politicians they have feet of clay.

Now 34 and married to fellow journalist 66-year old Barry Soper she would dispute she is "just another Hosking" as those who dislike her opinions maintain.  

But there are similarities. Both are self-opinionated, both insult those who attack them, both seek sensational headlines, both are ultra right-wing, and, most importantly,  both regularly fail to provide any evidence to support their opinions, and both lack any sense of context or history.

This is nowhere better illustrated than in du Plessis-Allan's  recent attack on the PM for attending the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru and her follow-up comment that the Pacific Islands "don't matter." 

"They are nothing but leeches on us." she said. "The Pacific Islands wants (sic!)  money from us."

So much for the accusations. I was now waiting for some facts, argument or evidence  to support them, but all I'm left with is her unsupported opinions with no indication on whether  they were formed as a result of her study, research  or experience. 

This is a trait she shares with Mike Hosking. Make a provocative statement, deflect attention from the need for evidence by attacking those who disagree -- and bask in the publicity received.  

When criticized for her remarks by Privacy Commissioner John Edwards,  she told him to "Go back to university and do some more training. You are not good enough."

She said Edwards' reaction was symptomatic of intolerance on the political left.
"They are like all deep-thinking and progressive but the moment someone says something that they don't want to see the nuance in, they just take the broad brushstrokes of something."

When challenged also by Samoan-born New Zealand writer, actor and Sunday News columnist Oscar Kightley, who said she "owes our Pasifika neighbours an apology", she said she was not speaking of Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.

Kightley replied:
 "This broadcaster should know that when they slag off the Pacific Islands, they're also slagging off the nearly 300,000 Pasifika people who call New Zealand home.  It's not like we're going to say: 'It's okay, she only means the islanders back there - not us,' " 

But that's what she did say, before going on to claim NZ aid money was not well spent.  

Mentioning Niue as an example, she said New Zealand was "literally funding the country (it is) a "leech" state. Not exactly the most complementary of terms.

Given that increased financial aid to the region  is a big part of the Pacific Reset policy now being put in place by Government, du Plessis's claims -- and the influence they are likely to have on her listeners -- are worth discussing in some detail. 

This I will do tomorrow -- in their factual and historical context.

--  ACW

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