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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Back to the 1950s we go!

The group Hobson's Pledge is clearly some sort of joke. One minor point on their views on our national anthem proves it - on their website, under the heading "indoctrination" they say:
Older New Zealanders would remember going to the movies and being required to stand for a rendition of the British national anthem God Save the Queen, singing Anglican hymns and reading the Bible at school prize givings and listening to a speech by some dignitary on the opening of anything official.
You'd think from the above paragraph that Hobson's Pledge are taking issue with the stuffy officialdom of old and the days when we had that Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem nonsense defining New Zealand: an insular, homogeneous, backward colonial backwater with an economy based on selling primary production to the "mother" country (who eventually moved on and joined the common market). It seems from the next paragraph that's not their view at all:
All that has changed. Any rendition of the New Zealand national anthem requires us to mumble through the first verse in Maori before singing the widely understood English words. School prize givings and university graduations require a traditional Maori welcome (powhiri). Openings of anything official require an incantation in Maori (karakia).
God Defend New Zealand didn't become our national anthem until 1977, even though it was written by Thomas Bracken and Joseph John Woods in the 1870s (interestingly both Maori and English versions came about at the same time - the English version was first performed in 1876, while the Te Reo Maori verses were added in 1878, so it was a true partnership, something the Hobson's Pledgers don't like). Even then it is technically only with "equal" standing to God Save the Queen, another one of those stupid historical compromises no-one remembers, which has been rendered obsolete by the mists of time.

The specific issue the pledgers take with God Defend New Zealand is that the don't know how to sing it in Maori. The strange thing is it's not hard to sing God Defend New Zealand in Maori, and it's not hard to learn. The Ministry of Culture and Heritage also provides handy YouTube videos on how to sing in Maori. I'm guessing the pledgers will see this as more indoctrination.

It seems in these two paragraphs, the pledgers assert that things were better in the 1950s because they were more Anglo-centric. That is a damning insight into their thinking. The do not believe in civic nationalism they allege - the idea that all New Zealanders are equal - at all. They believe that being British is superior, and our own home-grown identity, expressed in both the Maori and English verses of God Defend New Zealand is inferior. They apparently want to go back to the 1950s and not be bothered by the realities of being a post-colonial state.