Posted by BE on October 20th, 2012
I was watching Rachel Smalley talk to Hone Harawira on The Nation this morning. This was a quite extraordinary interview for two reasons:
First, Smalley is now without peer in New Zealand as a current-affairs and political interviewer, an accolade I would previously have given to the hugely talented Duncan Garner. I would go further. Smalley is up there with some of the finest television interrogators in Australia (not difficult), the United States (quite difficult) and the UK (very difficult). She is enormously well-informed; her questioning is challenging without being interruptive, aggressive or rude; her delivery is impeccable; her interviews are models of intelligent debate.
Because New Zealanders have grown used to noise and impertinence as hallmarks of the effective interviewer, when in fact these are indicators of lack of real talent, Smalley’s brilliance has perhaps not yet been fully recognised. But I have absolutely no doubt that, with a little more experience, she will rank alongside interviewers of the quality of HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur.
Second, Hone Harawira is in my view the most effective political communicator in New Zealand. His reputation among Pakeha and some Maori is probably that of a loud-mouthed Maori shit-stirrer, a reputation he has from time to time deserved. And the name Harawira has not helped. His mother Titewhai, while liking to be seen arm in arm with white-skinned Prime Ministers at Waitangi, is to me the embodiment of anti-Pakeha sentiment in this country. And Titewhai is often in her son’s ear. This is how I expressed it in a previous post:
“Many years ago I interviewed Hone’s mother, Titewhai Harawira. In the course of the interview I put it to her that she was consumed with hatred for the Pakeha. She vehemently denied it, but the language and tone of her replies merely served to reinforce the truth of my accusation.
“Titewhai’s blood runs in Hone’s veins. But I sometimes think he is conflicted. There is, I divine, a decent and warm human being in there, a nice person. The cognitive dissonance of the voices in his head may go some way to explaining his Jekyll and Hyde vacillation between belligerence and appeasement.”
I think that was pretty well right. Have a look at Hone’s interview with Smalley on The Nation. What you will see is a quiet, considered, rational advocate for Maori. Chatting to him before the interview I encounter, as I have on previous occasions, an engaging, funny and, above all, warm personality. In debate he displays not merely high intelligence, but a rare dialectical subtlety that he uses to effect. Hone is not easy to beat in an argument about race relations in Aotearoa. He has spent too long at the coalface, is too experienced, too sharp, too articulate, too driven by his concern for his people and his intolerance of injustice.
Yes, I know, that seems over the top and it doesn’t seem to fit the man who could write: “White motherfuckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries, and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit.” But then, it’s pretty well right, isn’t it?. And maybe it makes my point that Hone is a Janus-like personality torn between conciliation and rage.
So Rachel (image: private girls’ school, Pakeha posh) and Hone (image: radical Maori shit-stirrer) were always going to be an interesting mix. But, if you haven’t already seen the interview, be prepared to be surprised. This is wonderful television, intelligent and mesmerising debate at a level all too rarely seen in this country.
(You can see Rachel’s interview with Hone Harawira at http://www.3news.co.nz/Asset-shares-offer-an-insult–Harawira/tabid/370/articleID/273462/Default.aspx )
I agree with you 100%. Fantastic blog. I like it so much I’m going to share it. I have always related to Hone for the very reasons you describe.
I agree with you on both counts Brian. I have thought a few times lately that Rachel has a low key conversational type of approach to interviews but she usually manages to get right to the point of the issue quietly but very effectively.
And Hone is an extraordinarily good communicator. By all accounts he is a hard working and competent MP and his passion and drive cannot be faulted. He has those odd passages where he reverts to the general perception of him (e.g. his trip to Paris) but then he recovers and gets back into hard work.
Parliament would be a quieter and less colorful place if he was not there.
I stopped reading when you said Duncan Garner was hugely talented. Maybe as an entertainer…but not as a serious journalist.
BE: Surprising for a ‘truthseeker’ to stop reading something because he disagreed with the writer’s positive view of someone, expressed early in the piece. I would have thought that was a sign not of a truthseeker but of a closed mind.
Oh and I also agree about Rachel Smalley. I was just so surprised to rea something positive about Hone, I forgot to mention Rachel.
Here’s the direct link to the video:
And she speaks English beautifully, clearly and
I rarely watch TV these days, and have never watched it before pm time.
Followed links to this and was gob smacked.
An intelligent insightful discussion with no prancing egos around.
It has been a decade or few since I have watched any thing that good on NZ tv.
I am a bit doubtful about your praise fo Garner………
But thanks for suggesting that turning on the tv at that hour of the morning is not moronic.
“And she speaks English beautifully, clearly and
Surely, “grammatiaclly correctly”, Ian? …chuckle…
Have just see the interview. I already have admiration for Rachel Smalley, and as you said Brian, her technique gives the interviewee the best opportunity to articulate their views, at same time challenging them on appropriate points. I’ve seen an excellent written interview with Hone Harawira, which unfortunately am unable to quote, but in it he came as across as the person you described above. The Nation interview was excellent….I just wish more people both in the media and general public would watch.
““White motherfuckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries, and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit.” But then, it’s pretty well right, isn’t it?.”
And that’s the $64,000 question that shapes one’s perceptions of Hone.
Personally, I don’t buy it, or at least not any more. Equality is an impossibility, as is ultimate equality of opportunity. What is possible, and I’d argue is a reality in New Zealand is sufficiency of opportunity for all, including Maori. The obligation of ‘society’ has been fulfilled.
I have no doubt Hone’s words and demeanour are at times measured, and conciliar. The man is not without redeeming and worthwhile qualities. But words are cheap. It is actions that count. Seeing him rejoicing at the mob mentality he inspired amongst his young followers at Waitangi Day 2012, and his prophecy that the the young protesters he had groomed would continue forever opened my eyes.
Despite good faith attempts by successive governments since Geoffrey Palmer gave the Waitangi Tribunal the authority to investigate grievances dating back to 1840, buttressed by a (sometimes tardy) willingness of all Kiwis to redress with the sins of the past in good faith, nothing we can ever do will satisfy Hone. Ever.
I’m confident of my ability, and the ability of my family and friends, and most New Zealanders to deal justly with one another. It isn’t automatic, but we eventually get there.
If Hone wants to throw his life away tilting at windmills, and alienating himself from the majority of Kiwis, good luck to him. But when he seduces others with his demagoguery like the Pied Piper, particularly the young of Northland to waste their lives and the opportunities they have been given, then I’m not impressed whatever favourable image the skilled and professional Rachel Smalley is able to draw from him.
BE: “Seeing him rejoicing at the mob mentality he inspired amongst his young followers at Waitangi Day 2012, and his prophecy that the the young protesters he had groomed…” What!?
I disagree with you about Smalley, I saw her interview with one of the Wellington Occupy protesters and was appalled with the attack she made against him, while also revealing she knew very little about the actions or objectives of the movement. I can’t watch her anymore, i always feel like I’m watching a right-wing advocate spanking their left-wing guests into submission.
BE: ” I can’t watch her anymore, i always feel like I’m watching a right-wing advocate spanking their left-wing guests into submission.”Goodness, Not sure whether this is a complaint or a fantasy!”
“………particularly the young of Northland to waste their lives and the opportunities they have been given…..”
Ok, Kimbo, exactly what ‘opportunities’ are you referring to? And just who, where and in what numbers and what way, are these ‘young of Northland’ ‘wasting’ their lives?
Harawira was interviewed on or about Waitangi Day 2012 (am working on tracking it down, I think it was TV3 on Feb 6) after the actions of his nephew, Wi Popata (who had previously been convicted of assaulting John Key in 2009) had forced Key to withdraw from Te Tii Marae on February 5. Key had intended to make an official statement on government policy re Maori dissatisfaction over partial asset sales and section 9 of the SOE Act.
Harawira spoke favourably in his nephew’s favour (no surprise), reflected proudly that the the young were taking up the mantle of protest that he and others had modelled for them (again, no surprise there), and stated that February 6 at Waitangi would always (and that was the word that stuck in my subconscious!) be a time and place to protest.
Usually with the written word I’d be able to footnote and attribute the source much more easily. However, as you are no doubt aware, Brian, TV is a more difficult medium to readily verify. I’m prepared to admit my memory may be faulty, but I’m pretty sure the recollection and inter-relationship of the key ideas I’ve quoted is accurate.
BE: There’s no reference to Hone in the Herald article you cite. Come back to me when you can justify your earlier comments about him.
“There’s no reference to Hone in the Herald article you cite”.
Indeed. I was only quoting it for general context and to remind you of the incident in question. Will continue searching for the original source.
“Ok, Kimbo, exactly what ‘opportunities’ are you referring to?”
Well, Kat, I suppose as Labour is determined to oppose meaningful forms of regional development in the North (the pejoratively-labelled “holiday highway”, and aligning themselves with a potential coalition partner in the Greens who are pathologically opposed to mining), its probably hard for you to properly assess.
However, as all Northlanders are recipients of our world-class education system (I’m quoting the PPTA), that is a good place where opportunity starts…
And don’t commence a sentence with the word ‘And’
BE: I’m pleased you’ve brought this up. It’s time to get rid of this pedantic nonsense about not starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’. And another thing…
Yes, I agree that the interview with Hone Harawira was one of the better ones that Smalley conducted. Love him or hate him, I respect Hone for being a straight shooter, sticking to his principles, which I miss in so many other NZ politicians.
‘The Nation’ does though not convince me as being such a great current affairs show, as too many reports and discussions over recent months did from my perception really favour government ministers and their policies and interpretations. I noted once how the Minister for Housing basically told untrue things, and how neither Smalley nor the two journalists on their panel detected this and challenges what he said.
Rachel Smalley can be good at times, but she also is a touch arrogant. She does often fail to dig deeper into issues, which I respect of a good modertor and interviewer. The program seems to me to be mostly a bit biased and thus lacking. But as there is little other “competition” in little NZ’s mainstream media, is is not so hard for Smalley to perform well at certain times.
Holiday Highway, Greens, world class education system!?
As I suspected, you don’t have anything of any ‘real’ substance, or any first hand knowledge, just more anti Labour rhetoric.
Yep, you just keep on taking that ‘Jun Key’ kool Aid.
I’m trying to find the transcript of your commentary suggesting tobacco companies are the second most devious industry after the oil companies.
In fact most of the additional or new opportunities for Maori (and anyone else who needs them) such as housing programs in Northland were put in place by Jim Anderton when he was Minister of Regional Development in the Clark government. The opposition to the Northland motorway is for a different reason i.e. that it is part of a transport policy implemented by National which is totally unbalanced in favour of road transport of goods because they are in he pocket of the roading (construction and use by heavy transport) lobbies.
“…totally unbalanced in favour of road transport of goods because they are in he pocket of the roading (construction and use by heavy transport) lobbies.”
Which stands in marked contrast to the party that is presumably in the pocket of the railway lobby – and who did pour millions into it (with additional billions now needed to service that initial commitment), with no specific realisable market return in sight?!
I agree with your comments about both Rachel Smalley and Hone Harawira. Although The Nation is produced by Richard Harman for TV3, I also think credit must go to Mark Jennings for his longlasting and continuous support for real journalism at TV3 – real contrast with the contantly changing empires at TVNZ. I am old enough to think wardrobe should be more careful sometimes about how they dress Rachel appropriate to the role she plays.
Being anti railways is yet another failure symptom of this inept National govt and its myopic supporters. Probably the only govt in the developed world that is blind to the commercial benefits of rail over roads.
“Being anti railways is yet another failure symptom of this inept National govt and its myopic supporters.”
Actually, Kat, (and I’ll make this the last of our repartee as it is way off beam for the original topic) because National and Key are so gutless and continually holding their finger to the wind, rather than flogging off the useless albatross that is Kiwirail, they are actually pro-rail. So far…
@ Manu Caddie: “I’m trying to find the transcript of your commentary suggesting tobacco companies are the second most devious industry after the oil companies.”
My apologies if this is not grammatically correct, but will this do? It’s from the media panel at 53 minutes:
Rachel Smalley: It’s an interesting scenario, where you see in the media ..essentially industry lobbying public opinion.
Brian Edwards: I don’t think it’s going to make any difference. I think that the tobacco ads if you’re a smoker, you approve of those ads, but it won’t make any difference. If you’re a non-smoker, you’ll probably disapprove of them, but that won’t make any difference either. So I think they’re wasting their money. But they’re wasting an awful lot of money, and the tobacco industry worldwide is the most dishonest, the most unscrupulous, the most immoral industry anywhere in the world with the possible exception of the oil industry. So people’s views on it are very strong. This won’t change anything. And the ads themselves are dishonest in my view.
These are an apt description, and I’m sure Hone would express similar words to these.
“Hone Harawira is in my view the most effective political communicator in New Zealand.”
How true! And the most articulate as well.
“White motherfuckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries, and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit.”
Britain has the Windsors: Buckingham Palace.
America has the Kennedys: Camelot
New Zealand has the Harawiras: Cess Pit
BE: But thankfully we also have intellectuals like you.
It is refreshing to see intelligent political debate on NZ television and I’d like to echo Robert Boyd-Bell’s endorsement of Mark Jennings’ commitment to quality journalism. When our state (style over substance) broadcaster has let us down so badly in recent years, thank God for TV3.
” in the pocket of the railway lobby” Kimbo? What railway lobby? Apart from a few unions in that area (who even the Labour Party largely ignores)there are no highly organised groups speaking up for rail, although there are some interested individuals. On the other hand there has been a consistent push by large and well financed (and mostly Australian owned) roading and large contracting groups to tie up the National Party completely in roading’s interest which they have largely succeeded in doing. Because we don’t have a legal requirement for groups to lobby out in the open (although there is a PMB which would do it in the name of the Greens) this has largely gone un-noticed and has been a most pernicious development. The only group I know which has been even more effective in its own political inteerst is the breweries . . . but that’s another story
“…there are no highly organised groups speaking up for rail, although there are some interested individuals”
What do you call the Green lobby?! (rhetorical question!)
Brian, I have to take you to task on your glowing — almost breathless — critique.
“First, Smalley is now without peer in New Zealand as a current-affairs and political interviewer”.
Hard to fathom how you could have come to that conclusion. Lest, of course, it was after a late-night tipple or two.
Honestly, the interview was perfunctory, as it was politely routinised. Bit like, “And some black pepper with your steak, Sir”
Not that I didn’t see it coming, and what one would expect, after the deferential “Kia ora” greeting, to set the amiable tone that was to follow.
This was very much a “paint by numbers” type questioning. The session produced no real drive, no intellectual verve by way of challenging-and-contradiction. Just a series of cues to elicit responses that — seemingly — were designed to dovetail with the questions at hand. In layman’s terms: It lacked grunt.
“In debate he displays not merely high intelligence, but a rare dialectical subtlety that he uses to effect”.
“Second, Hone Harawira is in my view the most effective political communicator in New Zealand”
“I know iwi leaders have spoken to me, personally.
Is that “effective communication”? If the iwi leaders weren’t talking to him “personally”, were they talking to his double?
He says, in one breath, he won’t compromise on principle; and in the other, he’s “pragmatic” — that is, willing to cut a deal if the ‘lie of the land’ suits him. This is just a snapshot of one of many two-handed head clutchers, that makes me wonder if we were watching the same interview.
BE: My assessment of Rachel and Hone wasn’t based solely on one interview but on my observations of both over a lengthy period, in Rachel’s case on Firstline and The Nation and in Hone’s case over several years. Your over-intellectualised critique also leaves me to wonder “if we were watching the same interview”. It also smacks of prejudice.
Kimbo. “What do you call the Greeen lobby?” is not a rhetorical question. Pray tell me – who are the highly organised groups which constitute it?
I agree that Hone is a very effective political communicator. Crisp , pointed and authentic.
People may disagree with his perspective but its very clear what it is.
Not a hint of mealy mouthed spin talk, which is refreshing.
Kimbo if your perception of Hone is shaped entirely by one throw away comment it is you that loses.
” reality in New Zealand is sufficiency of opportunity for all, including Maori. The obligation of ‘society’ has been fulfilled.”
Complete bollocks, this sort of ACT party talk died years ago.
Mickey Savage ! Good to see you here , kiaora bro.
tony simpson, if you don’t consider the Green Party and Greenpeace (for a start!), along with a myriad of other environmental groups exercising their right to lobby against roads, then I guess there is no answer I can give that will satisfy you, and my previous answer is indeed rhetorical.
You disagree? Fair enough. As stated previously to Kat, as this discussion has strayed yet again off topic, I make this my last response on the matter.
But over to you if you want to kick it around some more on your own…
“Kimbo if your perception of Hone is shaped entirely by one throw away comment it is you that loses.”
Hey, Richard. Always a pleasure to dialogue and interact with your thoughtful comments.
You may be right, but no, I have previously been amenable to Hone, and I don’t think he is a cardboard cut-out.
I will acknowledge he is the most honest politician around – if ‘honest’ means speaking what is on your mind – although that doesn’t necessarily mean it is worth being spoken!)
However, I doubt he has the skill to take the anger he instigates/massages/facilitates to a positive outcome. Instead, I see a vision of young Maori with great potential and ability wasting their lives re-litigating grievance, and never reaching the point of, “enough!”. Anger and hate are powerful emotions, but they are also potentially very destructive, including to those who indulge them.
There are enough places like that in the world already. I doubt Hone is a potential Mandela, able to take anger somewhere positive, and know when let it go.
But I also hope I’m wrong…
Fair enough Kimbo, yes a certain amount of rage there and agreed rage is not enough. I dunno but I think I can see a maturing process happening in Hone, call me hopeful .
Rachel Smalley is the reason I no longer watch TV1’s so-called news and current affairs
BE: And what would the reason be for that?
Excellent interview and a damned good assessment of the situation, Brian.
All we need now is a decent programme where Rachel can talk to a few others and we might start to get the odd answer or two from our reticent politicians.
Kimbo: Just for the record – of the two instances you cite of green lobby groups on behalf of rail one (the Green Party) is not a lobby group but a political party and therefore by definition the body which is lobbied and not a lobbier on behalf of a special interest. Unless that is you regard all political parties in parliament as lobbies on behalf of special interests e.g. National for business and farmers, Labour for unions, Maori Party for iwi leaders, ACT for international corporate interests and so on. That is a legitimate way of perceiving our politics but it’s not what I’m talking about. The other – Greenpeace – is undoubtedly a lobby group but lobbying for rail is not it’s primary purpose or even its secondary one. I know you aren’t going to respond further on this matter but if you did you’d have to do better than that in naming lobby groups on behalf of rail
” I know you aren’t going to respond further on this matter but if you did you’d have to do better than that in naming lobby groups on behalf of rail”
Oops, my OCD just won’t leave it alone.
From time to time, possibly unfairly, probably not, I’ve been accused of indulging in jesutical pedantry. Tony, even by my standards, “Greenpeace – is undoubtedly a lobby group but lobbying for rail is not it’s primary purpose or even its secondary one” is obscurantist sophistry.
Over and out!
Ann Roberts, I agree that tv1’s Close Up is certainly not “news and current affairs”, but Rachel Smalley is on TV3!
And (couldn’t resist) Rachel is a very good interviewer, although she does need better background research if her interview with the Sanfords CEO this morning is anything to go by.
tony simpson: I can’t recall greenpeace ever lobbying for rail. While I’d imagine them looking more favorably on it than trucks, it really doesn’t fit within their focus areas. I think kimbo is a letter off and picking that out of limbo.
@ Tony Simpson
“Kimbo: Just for the record – of the two instances you cite of green lobby groups on behalf of rail one (the Green Party) is not a lobby group etc, etc”
You are so very wrong, Tone! The Green Party lobbied on behalf of the Hotel Association, to introduce legislation that would prohibit hotel guests bringing live lobsters into their foyers because they might lob them over the counter.
Seriouslsy, dude, we are all lobbied-out with your posts.
Yes, I did pull it out of a hat, but then didn’t have to google for more than 10 seconds to find this: –
“Press Release – Greenpeace New Zealand, July 8, 2011
Rail jobs will be an important part of the transition to a clean economy – and a clean economy is something the Government must start the move toward now, says Greenpeace New Zealand.
A Greenpeace New Zealand representative will be speaking at tomorrow’s rally in Dunedin to save rail workers’ jobs at two of Kiwirail’s workshops.
Kiwirail wants to cut 70 jobs from its Dunedin and Lower Hutt workshops combined, after having given a contract to build rail wagons to an overseas supplier.
“Greenpeace is pleased to be a part of this campaign,” says Greenpeace’s Michael Tritt, “because the workers who will help deliver a modern rail system are critical to building a clean economy.
“Rail is efficient, it’s good for our energy security, and it means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, at a time when we’re dangerously close to the point of triggering a state of runaway climate change.
“Countries around the world are now investing heavily in rail because of this. Yet New Zealand is lagging far behind.
“Kiwirail is a state-owned enterprise. As such, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce, despite what he says, could intervene to keep these ‘green collar’ jobs in New Zealand.
“This, along with not supporting projects such as Auckland’s underground rail loop, his obsession with building yet more roads, and the Government’s handouts for the deep water oil industry, are all proof that our leaders still have no idea of the value in becoming a clean economy.
“The Pure Advantage group, made up of some of New Zealand’s best business people, launched their campaign last night.
“They’re telling us that the rest of the world, much of which does understand the enormous potential in clean economics, is getting away from us.
“If we are to prosper in the 21st century, then we must heed such messages, now,” Tritt says.
Kimbo, what happened to the ‘over and out’!?
Now, what part of that ‘press release’ don’t you agree with? Read like good sense to me.
“what happened to the ‘over and out’!”
Can’t abide other getting the last word in, especially when it is trying to move the goal posts – like you just tried to!
The merits of the press release wasn’t the point at issue (not on this post, anyway!). The existence of the subject matter originating from Greenpeace was.
Do try and keep up…
BE: “Your over-intellectualised critique also leaves me to wonder “if we were watching the same interview”. It also smacks of prejudice”.
It wasn’t supposed to be an “over-intellectualised critique”. I was trying to say, that an effective interviewer wouldn’t have adopted a pre-formatted linear Q&A approach with the interviewee; and not deviate when opportunities arose to delve further when the response called for it. It seemed, Rachel Smalley was going through her checklist of questions.
“Sigh”, to your last remark. Seems, that if you disagree, you must be “prejudiced”.