Brian Edwards Media

Paul Holmes – Starry Starry Knight

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My congratulations to everyone named in today’s New Year Honours, but in particular to Paul Holmes. His knighthood is richly deserved.

I first got to know Paul in the early 1970s. I think he was a radio announcer in Christchurch at the time or he may have come to Wellington to work on 2ZB. I was then the Labour candidate for Miramar. I was also ‘the star’ of The Brian Edwards Travelling Road Show, a stage review dreamed up by Roger Hall and consisting of comedy sketches and music. We toured the country to ever-diminishing audiences.

The ‘we’ were Roger, Fay and Grant Tilly, Michael Noonan, Ross Jolly, singer Jenny Parkinson, Yours Truly and a new name and face to me – Paul Holmes.

Paul was a delight on and off stage. He was kind, warm and funny. His ‘flea race’, in which the radio commentator has a lot of money on one flea and systematically eliminates the others by squashing them with his thumb, was a highlight of the show. There were many such highlights.  

Less successful was the ‘star’ himself.  I have always suffered from performance nerves but never more so than during the Travelling Road Show. My monologues were deadly and my attempts at humour dire. Only my harmonica playing (Summertime) at the very end of the show, was rewarded with scattered applause.

On one occasion Roger took me aside and, by way of encouragement, told me how much he admired me. ‘You go out there every night and die a thousand deaths, but you still go out again the next night. That shows real courage.’  Thanks!

Paul was ever sympathetic and encouraging, the ingénue cheering up the old hand.

Though it never occurred to me that he would one day be the country’s foremost radio and television interviewer, I did recognise his extraordinary talent. Indeed, after one of his performances on the show, I committed the cardinal sin of singling him out from the rest of the cast. ‘Paul Holmes, ladies and gentlemen! One day that young man will be a star.’ I was quite properly rebuked by the producer.

Well, the rest really is history. Paul would become a seminal influence in New Zealand broadcasting. He would change the landscape. Though many fine broadcasters preceded him, he was our first real ‘star’. And, in that sense of the word that suggests Hollywood and glittering lights and show dancers and  theme music and Emmys and Oscars and your name on the pavement of Hollywood Boulevard, he may well be the only real star that our small nation has as yet produced.

As the inevitable corollary perhaps, he has also been our most controversial broadcaster, a polariser of public opinion. In a sense his very fame may have served on occasion to deny him the respect that his intellect, his extraordinary talent, his humanity and generosity required. He was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit some years ago, but the truth of the matter is that most Kiwis have very little idea of what our New Zealand awards mean. Paul’s knighthood changes all that. It is the ultimate expression of the country’s respect for a truly great broadcaster and communicator.

One must be careful not to write in the past tense. This is the guy who holds the New Zealand record for near-death experiences. To all today’s accolades, add ‘survivor’.

Cheers Paul.


  1. Nice piece. Having met Paul once or twice, and been on the receiving end of his kindness and generosity, I heartily agree. Yes he’s had the odd controversy, but haven’t we all. He’s such a good bloke, bloody clever and really a great broadcaster and writer; it’s a heartily deserved honour.

  2. Well said, Brian. Somehow or other the “Travelling Roadshow” managed to pass me by, but it must have been quite something.

    I’m glad you’ve highlighted Paul’s intellect and his humanity.

    Having exhausted myself creating four hours of new/talk breakfast radio each day I have an inkling of how agile a mind must be to straddle a multitude of subjects over that period. But then to perform under even more intense conditions on television some 13 or so hours later, being alternately interrogator, jester, everyman or investigator as the topic demanded… it took an extraordinary mind and an incredible energy to do that.

    I also know you can only produce truly excellent interviews, the kind that reveal parts of a person rarely if ever seen publicly, if you can empathise with your subject. I’d manage maybe one a month I was proud of, yet Paul would be having a bad week if he didn’t have several of that sort. He made it look effortless, too, though jealousy makes me hope he put in at least a little work.

    You’re right that many fine broadcasters preceded him, but to a great extent NZ radio and TV was still following a model; with some stations it was the BBC, with others it was an Americanised format like “Top 40″, but (accents aside) you could have been listening to any station in the UK or US. Paul was just Paul, and in doing so gave a lot of broadcasters (myself included) the license they needed to abandon the models and be what we were – which also happened to be uniquely Kiwi.

    I’m very conscious of the fact I’ve banged on more about myself than about him, but I don’t think anyone who hasn’t worked in broadcasting can ever quite realise how much he changed it, and what a debt he is owed by those who were his contemporaries and have followed since.

    And I should also add that in my one encounter with Paul on the other side of the equation, as a subject, also served to illustrate his humanity, and that seemed to influence those with whom he worked. What could have been (and would have been, on Australia’s excreable “current affairs” shows) a “gotcha” tabloid piece instead honoured a longstanding commitment to be fair – a commitment it would have been easy for him to have broken. Long portrayed as NZ’s most tabloid broadcaster, it was Holmes alone who covered my story in depth and with balance.

    And I agree with you that’s he’s a survivor. I’ve seen first hand the effect that sheer tenacity can have on longevity; if Paul invests the rest of his life with half the energy he put into what preceded it he should enjoy a long and well-deserved retirement.

  3. I fully agree, Brian. I have been a Holmes fan and supporter since his first days on Newztalk ZB. He has endured a lot of nastiness from the ignorant and it continues. As is usual with personal attacks, almost all of this nastiness comes from the Left, eg:

    How any of these people think such behaviour helps their political or personal cause is beyond me.

    BE: I agree, Alan. Absolutely disgusting comment by Martin Bradbury.

  4. Paul Holmes is deserving of as many accolades as we can manage to award him, within the industry from whence he came. Such an illustrious career filled with many endearing moments many of us can relate to. Ka pai taake tena,e hoa. But as you say Brian, most NZers have little idea if any of what they mean. As you have suggested they may very well be an ultimate expression of this country’s respect.In my view, our greatest respect should go not to those who are well paid to excell at what they do, but to the unsung heroes who year after year give selflessly as volunteers to the vulnerable and to fill the gaps left in the societal hole that celebrities cant reach. Mauriora.

    BE: Thank you Rosina. The unsung heroes you refer to actually account for the vast majority of the Queen’s Birthday and New Year honours, but they are rarely among the knights, dames or Companions of the NZ Order of Merit. At one ceremony which I attended, the greatest cheer went up for an elderly woman who received quite a modest honour – she had been Secretary of a local footie club for about 50 years!

  5. Brian, I completely agree with your comments on Sir Paul’s deserved New Year honour. I have not always agreed with his views, but I find that I increasingly do – as we both get older, more world-weary and more thoughtful. Particularly admirable has been his dogged fight against the awful scourge of “P” and the damage it causes NZ society, which of course he knows about first-hand.

    As for the swinish Bradbury – his comments (as usual) simply confirm what a loathsome, small minded worm he really is. In fact I have suspected for some time that he suffers from some undiagnosed mental condition that attacks the brain’s centres where balance, decency and common sense usually reside.

  6. What about Holmes’ hatemongering? Or is that just fine to you?

    BE: Two birds with one stone, Millsy. You succeed in insulting both Paul and me. Congratulations.

  7. I don’t know if Bradbury is sick but he is certainly sickening.

  8. Go Cola all night special was always entertaining and contraversial.Enjoyed much of what Paul Holmes has acheived as a broadcaster, and consider him to be the ultimate court jester.

  9. BE: Re your latest comment, Millsy. Most of the “hatred” and “vileness” seems to be coming from you. I won’t indulge you by publishing it.

  10. I agree with your comments Brian. I find Paul on a personal level funny, warm and compassionate. On a political level he is a tough interviewer so it pays to be prepared when facing him. He has the knack of lulling you into a false sense of security and comfort only to pounce with the left field question! I can’t understand the vitriol being written. While I don’t care much for knighthoods a decision has been made to honoured him for an exceptional contribution to broadcasting .I want to be part of those paying tribute. Happy New year to you and Judy.

    BE: Thank you Annette. Have a great New Year.

  11. Some things just have to be put in perspective. Holmes may come across as polarising and reactionary in the latter half of his career, but he’s hardly puerile like Paul Henry or inciteful like Michael Laws, and still a lot more personable than the both of them.
    And he’s not Alan Jones, who got pinged for openly inciting Australians to get violent towards Arabs.

    Even so, if people are surprised at criticism of him, the “cheeky darkie” affair isn’t easily forgotten, and there was also the Richard Poole interview, to name a couple of examples. (

    In fairness, Holmes did criticise Laws when the latter made ableist remarks about the Paralympics on Radio Live. And on balance, Holmes did feel the Govt’s response to Tame Iti was a bit excessive.

    I’d only be truly worried if Laws or Henry get nominated for a knighthood.

    BE: I’m assuming your meant ‘inciting’ when you were describing Michael Laws. You surely didn’t mean ‘insightful’?

  12. Seeing the racist ’cheeky darkie’ Paul Holmes get his gong serves as yet another example of the unfortunate direction that NZ has taken in the last few years, and reminds me of why we have permanently emigrated from NZ and have no wish to return. It comes hard on the heels of Judith Collins being touted as possible prime ministerial material on the basis of her vindictive bullying of Justice Binnie. What hope has NZ got of training its children that racism and bullying are unacceptable when racists like Holmes and bullies like Collins get rewarded and portrayed in unquestionably glowing terms by NZ’s C-grade media and its allied commentators (Gordon Campbell excepted). Not the sort of country that I want my children to grow up in al all. Shame on you Brian and the sycophants on your thread for your fawning paeon of praise of this racist a**hole.

    BE: I’m suitably chastised, David. But I’m reminded of Rob Muldoon’s remark that when a New Zealander goes to live in Australia, the national IQ of both countries rises. Not sure if you left us for Australia or some other foreign clime, but one thing is certain – the national IQ there won’t have benefitted much from the presence of someone who regards calling someone ‘a racist arsehole’ as intelligent comment.

  13. It’s kind of ironic really to have my IQ challenged by someone whose main enduring legacy is to have founded ‘Fair Go’, a programme which represents the worst type of tabloid TV and which resonates mostly with those who are just not that bright.

  14. Can’t quite see what Paul Holmes has to do with a Don McLean song. Was it on that CD that Paul put out? I’ve not listened to it, but word is it was diabolical.

    @David: Judith is a beautiful heroine for sticking it to the pompous fool Binne, and I say that as someone who has never voted National.

    @BE: Of course that quote of Piggy Muldoon was stolen from the American humourist Will Rogers, and is known as the Will Rogers phenomenon. So much for that slice of original Kiwi humour.

    BE: I bow to your degree in negativity, Dean, but really “I haven’t listened to it, but word is it was diabolical” doesn’t qualify as informed comment;

    Then we learn that Judith Collins is ‘a beautiful heroine’ and Judge Binnie, one of Australia’s most eminent and respected jurists, is ‘a pompous fool’. No sign of an argument there either.

    But finally you’ve got something right. Muldoon’s quote is indeed an example of ‘The Will Rogers phenomenon’. This is what Wikipaedia has to say about it:

    “The Will Rogers phenomenon is obtained when moving an element from one set to another set raises the average values of both sets. It is based on the following quote, attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to comedian Will Rogers: When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the average intelligence level in both states.”

    No doubt Mr Muldoon was familiar with the saying and adapted it to his advantage. But “stolen”? The word might be appropriate if Muldoon had been a professional stand-up comedian, but, despite some views to the contrary, he wasn’t.

  15. @ David

    “It’s kind of ironic really to have my IQ challenged by someone whose main enduring legacy is to have founded ‘Fair Go’, a programme which represents the worst type of tabloid TV and which resonates mostly with those who are just not that bright”.

    Dunno if I’d challenge your IQ, David, but as Holmes sxpressed public remorse and sorrow for the “cheeky darkie” comment, I’d take your comments as a good indication you have an over-developed capacity to

    1. hold a grudge
    2. exhibit intolerance of occasional human weakness and foolishness
    3. withhold forgiveness, and
    4. pour haughty scorn and contempt on others

    Enjoy your sojourn overseas, and wherever it may be, may it be amongst those you deem and judge as righteous and wise enough to share your company.

  16. 16

    Lets cut to the chase Sir Paul. I didn’t always like what you said but I sure as hell respected yoou as a broadcaster and as a fellow kiwi.Paul you deserve this honour because you have consistently served us for some many years as an entertainer and more as a benchmark for many people who need someone to set their standards by. I for one applaud you and want you to know that we in NZ appreciate you for who you are and the things you have done. You have made a huge impact on our community over the years.
    I thank you for your authenticity and integrity.
    I thimk we meed to acknowedge you now and to assure you that you are in fact a much loved NZer.

  17. @Kimbo. His ‘Cheeky Darkie’ is not his only racist remark ever, by a long shot. What about his Maori-bashing commentary in the Herald in relation to Waitangi Day in 2012, which was sufficiently offensive that several complaints against it were upheld by the NZ Press Council? See
    He certainly has not expressed any ‘remorse and sorrow’ in that case, and I don’t think it can really be forgiven easily, let alone rewarded by a gong.

    BE:There’s been a ‘you media people always stick together’ theme in many of the comments on this post. You and others might like to read two posts which I wrote on Paul’s column on Waitangi. The first was on 15 February 2012 and was headed Oh dear, Paul, were you drunk when you penned this racist diatribe?. The second, three days later, was a rejection of an explanation Paul had offered for the views he had earler expressed.

    I think it’s possible that Paul’s original column was written, shall we say, late at night. His defence, that he was referring to the racist behaviour of protestors at Waitangi rather than to Maori in general, may also have some merit.His fault may have been that he didn’t make that clearer.

    But even if you put the worst interpretation on both the ‘cheekie darkie’ comment and his Waitangi Day remarks, these are two isolated incidents in a career of more than 40 years and they are at odds with everything else Paul has said and written. I have both praised and criticised Paul in the past, but of one thing I’m certain – you have to look at the whole man and the whole career.

  18. God help us; there are some warped people amongst us. Whatever one’s views of Holmes or of the honours system there is no excuse for the viciousness and cruelty that has entered this debate.

    The comments from Mr Bradbury and others are indicative of their lack of any humanity.

    If David is typical of those leaving it is hardly surprising that Australia is trying to discourage immigration from NZ. There are sufficent numbers of unpleasant loud mouthed Australians without adding to the quota from NZ.

  19. @ David

    “What about his Maori-bashing commentary in the Herald in relation to Waitangi Day in 2012, which was sufficiently offensive that several complaints against it were upheld by the NZ Press Council?”

    You say Maori-bashing, others say forthright editorial comment.

    Am I right in discerning that you think only those with political and ideological views, or modes of expression that agree with yours should be given honours, David?

  20. I was under the impression that the “cheeky darkie” comment was ironic and Holmes was unfairly persecuted for it.

    However in his seven o’clock show he continually editorialised on the side of power and offered little to the powerless other than a sort of individualist charity from on high. It could be argued that he was simply a cultural product of a particularly unpleasant social and political time in our history or that he help facilitate its growth.

    In some ways his “star status” was very much symptomatic of that time – and the change in broadcasting from the public service model that came with it.

    I have previously been quite dismissive of Holmes, however I have respect for Dr Edwards and his opinion so perhaps I should judge him less harshly.

  21. BE: By “inciteful”, I meant “inflammatory”.

  22. @BE: In nearly every other profession with a public face (e.g., teacher, university lecturer, doctor, nurse, social worker) even a single racist outburst within an otherwise distinguished career would pretty quickly get you the sack, and rightly so too. Why should someone in the broadcasting profession not only be treated differently, but even rewarded with a gong? Further, doesn’t it strike you as interesting that most of those lining up to support Holmes’s gong are middle-aged white men, many with obviously provincial attitudes? Curious, isn’t it, that we have yet to see any Maori come out in support of said gong.

    @Kimbo. Nothing much really I can really say in response to your infallible logic. I assume you probably also think that Don Brash’s Orewa speech was inspired.

    @Ben. I actually entirely agree with you re Mr. Bradbury. However given how incredibly badly many Maori have been treated, along with the entrenched racist attitudes that continue to thrive in provincial New Zealand, I can nevertheless understand if it many Maori feel insulted and angry about this particular gong being given out.

    BE: “Further, doesn’t it strike you as interesting that most of those lining up to support Holmes’s gong are middle-aged white men, many with obviously provincial attitudes?” Does it not strike you as inconsistent that while raging against racial prejudice in others you can combine racist, ageist and elitist sentiments in a single sentence? I’m more or less at the end of my tether with your denigration of Holmes whose philanthropy, support of our paralympians, campaign against the scourge of P and many other activities you are clearly unaware of. Paul’s contribution to this country goes well beyond his broadcasting career and it is for that contribution that he has been recognised. And yes he is a friend of mine who happens to be extremely ill. So I’ve had just about enough of your venomous Trans-Tasman bigotry. It’s unwelcome on this site.

  23. David, I think the difference between you and me is that you think this ‘gong’ actually means something whereas I beleive the entire honours’ system is corrupt and a relic of colonial cringe. All these ‘gongs’ are meaningless and merely serve to massage the egos of those who choose to accept them.

    I am glad at least we agree on the matter of Bradbury’s remarks.

  24. You don’t have even a single racist flush unless the attitude’s deep in there already. Don’t kick a bloke while he’s down, but he was ever just another inveterate tory media plant, a bit vainer and more insecure than most, and as for “talent” – meh as they say.
    Still, nice to see loyalty from the media cadre, gets them past lunch thieves at least, and entertaining to see the intensity of the knives out for Bradbury – always thought he had the way to the nerve, nice to see it confirmed.

  25. @David: because broadcasting in NZ is not being held to the same standards as education or medicine.

  26. @Ben: Maybe you have misunderstood what I am objecting to, because I actually also fully agree with you that:

    ‘the entire honours’ system is corrupt and a relic of colonial cringe. All these ‘gongs’ are meaningless and merely serve to massage the egos of those who choose to accept them.’

    What I do strongly object to is John Key awarding this particular gong to Holmes because by doing so he is effectively legitimizing Holmes’s racist opinions.

  27. Give it a rest, David. You’re repeating yourself.
    By all means formalise recognition of yhose who further, selflessly, the public good. But knighthoods and addressing someone,prefaced by “Sir”, is right up there with dry-retching.

  28. @ David

    “What I do strongly object to is John Key awarding this particular gong to Holmes because by doing so he is effectively legitimizing Holmes’s racist opinions”.

    David, other than through the prism of your hyperactive proclivity to subject any and every action to a tight and unyielding ideological dogma, that is fantasy.

    But I’ll play along with you, just for a few moments.

    Why can’t the knighthood be given IN SPITE OF Holmes one miscalculated outburst?

    Who hit you with a magic stick so you can discern the thoughts and intents of people’s hearts?

    Or does that question also earn yet another sarcastic dismissal that my or BE’s logic are infallible? If you are going to have a discussion with grown-up, it helps if you don’t act like a 15 year old (WHOOP! Kimbo incurs 10 demerit points in David’s hunt for ideological purity for making a youthist remark!).

    And just to confirm your capacity for clairvoyance is badly astray – no, I didn’t think Don Brash’s Orewa speech was ‘inspired’. Populist, paint-by-numbers divisive crap, actually. Just as I’m finding your views are a hard-left ideological caricature on the opposite side of the same coin.

  29. BE:”Paul’s contribution to this country goes well beyond his broadcasting career and it is for that contribution that he has been recognised.”

    Well said Brian, Paul is a great guy and a proud Kiwi who has entertained this little country, in one way or another, for many years. It seems to me those who are pouring the vitriol on Paul Holmes are venting their angst perhaps not directly at Paul personally rather the society he appears in their eyes to represent.

  30. Kat, do you acknowledge that PH has poured out some vitirol himself over his times as a media host. Or is it just OK to keep on bashing Maori and beneficaries, because they are non-persons.

  31. Surely the most disconcerting thing about Paul Holmes’career is his racism and no amount of denunciation of David or trumpeting of other causes Holmes has supported eviscerates that uncomfortable fact.

    BE: Paul is not and never was a racist.

  32. Millsy, I recall a certain prominent Maori chap who poured vitriol and ‘bashed’ the general white people of this country and referred to them as ‘mother intercoursers’, or something similar to that. I just laughed at the time because I know what he was saying and why he said it. I also know that this Maori chap is a good man who works hard for his people. I doubt whether he would accept a titular honour but I certainly wouldn’t hold those comments against him if he were ever to be given one.

    I suggest you aim your fire at the real merchants of Maori and beneficiary ‘bashing’ residing within the current National govt.

  33. @Kat, the Left are so unedifying, aren’t they? Fortunately, we don’t need to take them seriously so long as they are not in Government.

  34. @BE: Shame on you for launching into a personal attack on me rather than responding to the issues at hand, and particularly for misusing the tragic ill health of your friend as a weapon with which to attack me. That is really low and you are the one that is being venomous here. And for the record, I do not and never have lived in Australia so I could just as easily accuse you of applying inappropriate labels to those whom you disagree with couldn’t I?

    BE: I apologise for getting the country you emigrated to wrong. Quite unforgiveable. I stand by everything else I’ve said about you, basing those opinions solely on what you yourself have written. I wrote a tribute piece about a fine broadcaster
    , only to see it sullied by people like you.

  35. The problem I find with your post is that it is an encomium, more suitable as a eulogy than a justification for a knighthood. You write from the point of view of a friend. Some of us, without that felicitous vantage point, are concerned about racist discourse being uttered by someone awarded such distinction as a knighthood. You say he is not and has bever been a racist, but there is obvious documentary evidence of spoken and written racist remarks. Are we meant to ignore them? Say he was just having a bad day? Racism is a malignancy that has to be removed. If a knighthood was to be awarded for services to broadcasting, why not Sir Brian Edwards. Your own discussion, over a long period of time, has always been carefully crafted to dissever racism and misogyny from its incisive poltical and social commentary.

  36. Be assured, your tribute remains in an unsullied state of virginal purity. If you only want to elicit posts that enhance — rather than vitiate — your thread, it might pay to state that by way of an addendum.

  37. This is the same man who lost his job for one phonecall to the pope(ok maybe a few other silly ideas -Hay at the front door of a police station).He has a record of broadcasting which has sometimes gone too far in some peoples opinions.Perhaps if he had taken a deep breath before making polarising remarks we would have found him boring.

  38. ” Fortunately, we don’t need to take them seriously so long as they are not in Government.”yet needs to be added to that comment.

  39. @Alan, the rabid right, represented by this current National govt, have no interest in anyone else but themselves so why should the looney left give a toss? Plant ice, expect rain I say.

  40. @BE: Surely you know that in any discussion of this type, the one who gets angry and throws mud at his opponent first is the one that has the weakest and least secure argument.

    BE: This is how you ended your first comment on this topic, David: “Shame on you Brian and the sycophants on your thread for your fawning paeon of praise of this racist a**hole.”

    # NZ Press Council (Nine wise men and women adjudicating on Holmes’s 2012 Waitangi Day contribution): ’The inaccuracies upon which some of the opinions are based also make the opinions so extreme that in the Council’s view they go beyond what is acceptable and become a gratuitous offence to Maori as a race.’

    # Brian Edwards (Friend): ‘Paul is not and never was a racist.’

    Interesting how much these two statements contrast. And you call *me* a bigot??!?

    BE: This is my last response to you, David. I said you had managed to include racism, ageism and elitism in one sentence. This was the sentence:”Doesn’t it strike you as interesting that most of those lining up to support Holmes’s gong are middle-aged. white men, many with obviously provincial attitudes.” What has my (or anyone else’s) age got to do with the validity of their opinions? What has the fact that I am a “white man” got to do with the validity of my opinions? What does being from the provinces (as distinct, I suppose, from the sophisticated urban centres) have to do with the validity of anyone’s opinions? This is the sort of thinking that condemns people by categorising them. He/she must be wrong/bad because they are old, white, unsophisticated or perhaps one of “you media people”. Racism, which you accuse Holmes of, depends on this sort of categorisation.

    My second area of disagreement with you and with several others who agree with you, is that I don’t accept the proposition that, once having made a racist remark brands you as a racist for life any more than once having made a sexist remark brands you as a sexist for life. It’s difficult to defend Paul’s “cheekie darkie” remark. But I’m not going to brand him a racist because he made one flippant but offensive remark. Holmes has probably spoken more words live on air than anyone else in the country. The chances of saying something stupid or unacceptable are very high for a broadcaster of such prominence. That, as Judy often says, “may be a reason but it’s not an excuse”, but I think we should take the reasons for people’s bad behaviour into account before writing them off.

    As for his second “racist outburst” after Waitangi day, I condemned it at the time. But I’ve since accepted Paul’s claim that he was referring to the behaviour of the protestors and not to Maori in general. He failed to make that clear in the column. As for the Broadcasting Standards Authority, their judgements are not a litmus test of the truth and should not be regarded as such.

    Finally, and most importantly, I find it difficult to come to terms with the unforgiving view that these two episodes in a a more than 40-year career in broadcasting, mean that all of Paul’s achievements in that field and all the good things he has done in other fields cannot compensate for these two mistake. Nor that they make those achievements worthless. The view was perhaps best enunciated by ‘Gerard’ who wrote: “Surely the most disconcerting thing about Paul Holmes’career is his racism and no amount of denunciation of David or trumpeting of other causes Holmes has supported eviscerates that uncomfortable fact.” He was right about the ‘denunciation of David’, but should we really be willing to take the position that whatever good we do in the world can never compensate for the bad, not just that we’ve done, but that we’ve said? Do only the bad things count? If your answer to that is Yes, then you bloody well better have lived a blameless life yourself.

    I’ll print one more response from you on this topic, David, if you want to send it, but only if it contains no personal abuse.

  41. BE: “It’s difficult to defend Paul’s “cheekie darkie” remark.”

    When I heard Paul Holmes make this remark, it seemed to me that he wasn’t himself calling Kofi Annan a “cheeky darkie”, but rather quoting it as the sort of expression that (some) others might use. Did it seem this way to anyone else, or am I drawing a long bow?

    I should say that I’m not a Holmes fan, but I don’t begrudge him his knighthood, and don’t believe he’s a racist.

  42. “As is usual with personal attacks, almost all of this nastiness comes from the Left”

    Alan perhaps hasn’t checked out

    BE: Indeed. Or a number of other Right Wing sites. Though the problem is largely a reflection of the safety (and false courage) which anonymity gives to people commenting on web sites regardless of their political biases.

  43. @ Gerard

    “Racism is a malignancy that has to be removed.”


    As also are witch hunts years after the event to collect scalps in the interests of furthering narrow and unrepresentative ideologies, when forgiving those who have expressed remorse for their occasional “racist discourse” (and I’m with Random Punter on the botched irony “cheekie darkie” comment) is much more beneficial for every one.

    Have a look at Nelson Mandela. Twenty six years of his life suffering as a REAL (not pretend outrage in blogland) victim of racism in a truly institutionally racist country, still with the wherewithal and capacity to confront, address, and then forgive his fellow-countrymen, and get on with living with them.

    I figure if Nelson Mandela can do it, it shouldn’t be too difficult for David or you.

  44. This has been a fascinating blogpost. Right from the start with the innocent pun in the title through to the suspicions of some and vehement accusation by other threadists (neologism for those who make comments)about suspected racism in the new knight, sinewy defence of Paul Holmes from Brian, intimations of colonial cringe concerning the honours system, concerns about ageism and derogation by Alan and Kat of those of a left persuasion, the post has generated a pot-pourri of wonderfully varying angles on the topic of awards. It is fascinating that an apparently innocuous endorsement of a friend has led to such a contentious commentary, testimony to the democratic nature of NZ and the facility of the modern media to generate unexpected and thought-provoking, pluralist textuality.

  45. @ Gerard

    Glad we could collectively provide you with raw data for your discourse analysis thesis

  46. @ Kimbo
    The problem I have with your contention that David and I should desist from what you describe as ‘witch hunts’ comes within the wording of your request. You describe Paul’s lapse in the “cheekie darkie” comment as ‘occasional “racist discourse”‘. That sounds like ‘occasional wife-beating’ to me. I would like to be convinced by your request to suspend this allegded witch hunt. Is there another way you could word your request so the matter could be considered?

    BE: Ah, another lovely example of what I call ‘the Hitler syndrome’ in dialectics. This is the use of the extravagant and inappropriate analogy as a form of argument. “Discourse”, racial or otherwise, really cannot be sensibly compared to “wife-beating”. One involves the spoken word, the other involves physical violence against another human being. This sort of arguing is used to make the other person’s case seem not merely wrong but grossly immoral, in this case, “Anyone who condones ‘occasional racist discourse’ is probably the sort of person who would condone wife-beating as well.” I call it ‘the Hitler syndrome’ because Hitler’s name and fascism seem to appear so frequently in such comparisons.

  47. @John Reilly, correct – I rarely read whaleoil so wouldn’t know but I do read kiwiblog and concede Brian’s point that a lot of posters there are equally as rabid as David but from the Right.

    I guess though I was ignoring the extremist political ghettoes and thinking of the commentary that makes it into the MSM like the Herald and Stuff. The vast mass of bitter and twisted stuff there comes from the Left.

    @Kat, you can’t be serious! The present Government represents the rabid right?? I would have thought it the essence of bland pragmatism.

    @Gerard, derogation of the Left by Kat? How cruel to such a staunch defender of the indefensible.

    Finally, in Matt McCarten’s Herald column when he revealed his own illness there were many responses who said they strongly disagreed with his left-wing ideology but wished him well. I don’t remember a single nasty response.

  48. @ Gerard

    ..and in addition to BE’s comment re a false analogy (and after a while around here, you won’t be such a novice as to incur his ire, as ‘outing’ false analogies is rather a speciality of our Brian),

    …”Is there another way you could word your request so the matter could be considered?”

    No, not really. I don’t think the problem is my lack of clarity of expression, but, as I’ve suggested before the intransigence of your ideological dogma. Only you can control that.

  49. Brian, when you asserted that Paul Holmes “is not and never was a racist”, I guess you were in the same extremely indulgent frame of mind as when you stated, on radio, that P.J. O’Rourke was “deep down, a very serious person” and when you lauded the “brilliance” of the unfunny New Zealand Herald cartoonist Rod Emmerson.

    BE: I don’t believe I have ever said anything about P.J. O’Rourke since I have never read his books and know nothing about him. Perhaps you can let me know when and where I am supposed to have said this. As for Emmerson you seem to be confusing the fact that you personally find him unfunny with whether or not he his cartooning skill can be described as brilliant. Anyway, to test the worth of what you write, perhaps you could supply chapter and verse for my supposed comments on Mr O’Rourke. I’ll apologise if I’m wrong and I’ll expect you to do the same. And god only knows what any of this has to do with my post on Paul Holmes.

    February 4. Whoops, Morrissey was right. Apology as promised below.

  50. Brian, as a secondary school teacher, I have several times had to deal with racist comments made in and out of class. The devastation caused by these sorts of comments is one of the saddest things I have seen in teaching , and with technology it is now done orally and via phones. The other thing that has concerned me about the reconciliation process of abuse and apology is that I have also felt that the apologies issued were not sincere but just another part of the smug game being played by those within the dominant culture. The saying that ‘sticks and bones may break your bones but words will never hurt you’ is not true when you see the effects of racial taunts on those being abused, who become full of Shylock-like hatred. Summoning dialectics and accusing me of creating Hitlerite analogies, as you do, offers an interesting invitation because to continue with that sort of exposition I see your attempt at dichotomy-making as a false dichotomy. I totally disagree with your dichotomous distinction between wife-beating and the victims of racial taunts. The bruising in both cases is different bruising but equally appalling. To blithely dismiss racism as ‘occasional racist discourse’ is not to see firsthand the state of the victims of it. I wouldn’t want to get into an distinction making about the agony of women in a Refuge compared to those in the counsellor’s room (often for months, and the jitteriness stays for a lot longer than that), because any distinctions made would be merely esoteric, and hardly appropriate when such infliction of pain has occurred.

    BE: I don’t disagree with much of what you say here, but I do disagree with your analogy as applied to Kimbo.

  51. In the absence of omniscience, the only way we can ultimately judge the character of a man of woman is by what they say and do.

    That has to be a balancing exercise. I do not believe that any person on this planet has not from time to time in the privacy of their own home uttered remarks which fall within the condemnation of all the “isms” (although perhaps David and Gerard are the new mutants of rectitude).

    That being so the approach of assessing the good and bad (together with relevant context around matters such as provocation, environment and regret or otherwise) has to be the right approach.

    Show me someone who has never made a fool of him or herself in this way and I will show you a liar. Show me someone who wants to judge the totality of a man or a woman by a single (or a few) utterance or incident and I will show you a hypocrite.

    BE: Amen to that, Old Tony!

  52. @ Gerard

    “the apologies issued were not sincere but just another part of the smug game being played by those within the dominant culture”.

    …which begs the questions: –

    1. How would one know for sure it wasn’t “sincere”, other than by observing a person’s preceding and subsequent behaviour (and other than a disputable/poorly worded article by Holmes this year in response to some highly-provocative behaviour at Waitangi, there has been no evidence to the contrary)?

    2. If you want a society where people are rightly held accountable for “racist discourse” (although that is a slippery term when you get ideologically loaded phrases like, “the dominant culture” thrown in the mix!) how else, other than the inevitable mechanics of a stage-managed public mea culpa do you expect it to be done?

    3. The “racist discourse analysis” crusaders got their scalp, and made their example of Holmes at the time he made the comment. Is this something that now has to be hung like an albatross around the man’s neck at any and every opportunity? When, pray tell, Gerard, do you, and others who are wanting to stamp out racism as you ideologically perceive it say “enough” against a specific historic example that was addressed?

    Sorry, Gerard. I don’t doubt your sincerity in wanting to “remove” the “malignancy” of “racism”, but there seems no alternative to what Holmes offered other than the method of the Stalinist ‘show trial’.

    Unless you can suggest one…

  53. @BE. My previous post was going to be my last one on this issue, but since you make one point that is incorrect, and kindly give me the opportunity for one more posting, I’ll rise to the bait just to respond to it. Specifically you entirely misunderstand my sentiment behind the ‘middle-aged white men’ sentence. Given that middle aged defines the 40-60 year age group (and not ‘old’ people), and that I am indeed myself a while middle-aged male from a provincial background, any ‘characterization’ and ‘condemnation’ could apply equally as well to myself. My point is that Paul’s support base is mostly from those that have the political and financial (and, yes, media) power in NZ, most of whom are white middle aged males, and mostly tories or chardonnay socialists by political persuasion. Paul’s support base does not include several of those groups that are disempowered under NZ’s incredibly unequal system that both main political parties seek to entrench, notably Maori who remain in their situation in no small part through ingrained racism, and which in my own experience is worst in NZ’s provincial regions. In that context, Paul’s latest outburst along with his knighthood from a well known establishment-figure a few months later is most unhelpful to say the least.
    I have nothing really to add in response to your other points that has not already been said, and we will just respectfully have to disagree on them.

    BE: So agreed.

  54. @Gerard, I think you are describing bullying using race as the discriminator. All forms of bullying are hurtful and oppressive. However all kinds of things can be called racist depending on the motivation and ideology of the caller. As a classic example both race-based legal privilege and failure to grant race-based legal privilege are claimed to be racist by opposing political factions. In my opinion the accusations against Paul Holmes were entirely of the political category

  55. @Kimbo
    Thank you for your very thoughtful comments and questions. Now I understand where you’re coming from, I’ll attempt answers to your points in order.
    1. Yes, knowing whether the apology is sincere remains the central question. Often it’s not, because the offending recurs. You see the Holmes article as ‘disputable/poorly worded’ whereas I see it in the same way as the press council ruling on it, and therefore am suspicious of a recurring problem. That’s all: suspicious, not holding out for absolute moral rectitude as Old Tony suggests – that would be pompous. There was racist comment, apology and then the column rant – but no apology (as far as I know). Is being suspicious about this trail of invective holier than thou, as Old Tony would have it?
    2. I used the term ‘dominant culture’ because racist taunting occurs by those with the power to inflict pain (an arrogant attribution of deficiency because of ethnicity or colour). You call the term ‘dominant culture’ an ‘ideologically loaded phrase’. Yes, it is. It comes from the political left. But terminology is notoriously ideologically loaded. Is there ever such a thing as ideologically free debate? The problem is that the column exhibited ranting rather than analysis, therefore the suspicion of recurrence or endemic mindset. The original ‘mea culpa’ is therefore inevitably revisited. I agree with the press council’s ruling on the wording of the column. Yes, I use the rhetoric of the left to describe the column, because as Hekia Parata keeps reminding us 20% of our students are being left behind, and disproportionately those students are Maori and Polynesian. Stereotyping Maori is part of the problem, not any aid to a solution to Maori underachievement. Paul’s column was undesirable, to say the least. As someone who has to deal with racist taunting and stereotyping professionally, I was shaken by the column’s ambience.
    3. This comment alleges scapegoating, and you might have a point, precisely because we don’t have what Old Tony calls ‘omniscience’. The problem is the words ‘Paul Holmes’ are, for most of us, a media construct. We can’t know what the real Paul Holmes thinks in the round – all we get are a screen/radio voice/ face and print; hence, the importance for media personalities to construct their persona carefully if they want public endorsement of awards. I don’t believe Paul, in his media incarnations, has been careful enough. As David insinuated, if a teacher called a colleague or student a ‘cheeky darkie’ his/her career would be severely compromised. It is highly doubtful awards would be forthcoming, or at the very least eyebrows would be raised if they were. Then again, the real Paul is not going to care if he has the support of someone called ‘Gerard’ (who can only respond to the media Paul) because he’s got his knighthood. That doesn’t mean ‘Gerard’ can’t be disconcerted about the elevation. All it means is that someone called ‘Kimbo’ in the blogosphere very thoughtfully responded to ‘Gerard’s’ request for New Year dialectics (to use Brian’s term) and gave him something to think about at New Year, the lifeblood of disputation.
    The suggestion of a ‘show trial’ doesn’t work as an analogy. I’m neither Hitler nor Stalin (isn’t ‘Stalin’ a label from your ideologically loaded discourse?). There’s no charge (threadists have no power), no trial, let alone show trial, just irrelevant bemusement after the fact of Holmes accession expressed in the polite discourse of the Brian Edwards blog rather than the scatology of Tumeke.

  56. @Alan Wilkinson
    Your suggestion of the political context for race comment is interesting. Yes, race-based legal privilege and responses to it are part of a political context. Famously, the Orewa speech by Don Brash is an example of that category of race discourse. Because we are a democracy, not a tyranny, we could all make up our minds about Brash’s contention. Many endorsed the One Nation thesis and the National Party stocks rose significantly because of the successfully eristic nature of the speech. That sort of electioneering process is all part of the to and fro of free speech. People can have a say by voting. However, it would be sophistic to suggest all race based matters are part of that political/electoral process. Some race based discussion/utterance is vehement venting of spleen experienced by powerless recipients as forcefully as a fist or a bullet. When that splenetic indulgence is uttered by a powerful media figure on a defining, if not the defining social issue for this country, those offended can only express concern/outrage – they have no vote in that context. There are two quite different types of contexts. The outlet for response to the Brash speech is the ballot box, the outlets for the Holmes column are the press council and the blogosphere, the outlet for the victim of racist taunting at school is the teacher or dean.

  57. Deservedly the (so-far) last word, Gerard. Thoughtful comment for old fools to ponder ;)

  58. @ Gerard

    Thanks for the response.

    “The suggestion of a ‘show trial’ doesn’t work as an analogy. I’m neither Hitler nor Stalin…”

    Hmm. I’m sure that is not your intent. But then there is what people say, what they mean, and the “so what” logical extrapolation of what they said and meant.

    I note that you didn’t, despite my invitation, suggest an alternative to Holmes’ ‘rehabilitation’ (for want of a better term), so I am assuming, as a result of piecing your posts together, that because there is no satisfactory means of assuaging your “suspicions” (your phrase – and by the way, isn’t “suspicions” the very essence of the ‘witch trial’ process?), then Holmes should never receive a knighthood. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but until such time as you actually front with a “here’s what should have happened and should happen now” scenario, then it seems legitimate to join the dots on your stated thoughts.

    So Holmes shouldn’t have got the gong, and maybe (horror), the GG should announce from Government House: –

    “We made a mistake. In the light of Mr Holmes’ failure to make proper redress over his racist (albeit disputed, but agreed as such by some of the non-elected members of the BSA panel, which SOME other people agree with)

    …commentary (and by the way, who says an op-ed piece MUST be “analysis” and not “ranting”?! Can’t it be both, with an unequal weighting at the discretion of the commentator? You and Brian Edwards may not have liked it. I did, as did a lot of other New Zealanders, and Holmes sure voiced our outrage at the attack upon democracy when our elected political leader, irrespective of John Key’s politics was shouted down at Waitangi when he attempted to outline for the benefit of the nation via the assembled media his government’s policy)

    …which confirm a pattern that manifested itself when he made racist (albeit perceived by SOME as botched irony)

    …comments about the then UN Secretary-General,

    …we have rescinded the warrant (or whatever the hell it is!) by which Mr (now no longer ‘Sir’) Paul Holmes was granted the knighthood”.

    I realise that from your ideological perspective, that may be logical. However, your ideological perspective is not one that the majority of New Zealanders share. Does Kiwi society in general have a stated aversion to racism? Yes. A real aversion to racism depending on how you define it? Probably/Possibly. But are New Zealanders also averse to an ideological class/gender/race/sexual orientation ‘them-and-us’ power division that forms the PRIMARY perspective on how they view life and their country? Based on voting patterns, and other than at the margins, or within the academies – you bet!

    So if knighthoods are an expression of the values that Kiwi society as a majority share, why should your unrepresentative ideological perspective be used to deny one to Holmes? I know you are ambivalent about the “scape-goating” descriptor, but when you view it from a perspective outside of your ideological construct (as most Kiwis do), then it certainly looks like it.

    Perhaps your problem (and it certainly seems the case with David, based on his last post) is not Holmes as such, but the fact that knighthoods are used to buttress the current hegemony. Well…often/sometimes..yes. Awards are bestowed upon people for sustained actions and achievements that ‘we’ consider valuable and important. Gongs go to people of every political persuasion, and most Kiwis look beyond the tribal politics, and acknowledge Tories, trade unionists, Maori activists or whomever as worthy recipients. In which case it isn’t really about Paul Holmes, and instead he is just collateral damage in the class/ethnic warfare struggle being waged by a few…

    “I…am suspicious of a recurring problem. That’s all: suspicious…Is being suspicious about this trail of invective holier than thou…?).

    Umm. Gerard, you are clearly a good guy, but in answer to your (rhetorical) question, yep, I think you are (unwittingly) holier-than-thou, courtesy of the ideological views you hold.

    But it is still a pleasure to dialogue with a gentleman such as yourself.

  59. @ Gerard

    “Some race based discussion/utterance is vehement venting of spleen experienced by powerless recipients as forcefully as a fist or a bullet.”

    No it isn’t. Not in this country it isn’t. That is another false analogy.

    Contrary to the attempts of the radical left to “raise consciousness” with phrases such as “New Zealand is a deeply racist country” we are not.

    As evidenced by the fact people don’t get shot in the back of the head, have their houses burned down, or are raped and their goods pillaged because of their race, creed, religion, political ideology, gender, or sexuality. As happens in other countries where racism is deeply entrenched.

    Isolated examples of deranged and hateful individuals are sometimes found. Sometimes the existing power structures can be insensitive, and, sometimes, with the best of mistaken intentions, implement policies such as ‘assimilation’, that lacked the nuance and buy-in at the flax-roots to be as effective as they should and could have been.

    Like many colonial countries we have a chequered past. Like many post-colonial countries, we were/are sometimes blind to the racism that did/does occur.

    Nevertheless, in the NZ context there is not a reasonable justification to equate vigorous debate with the “fist” or the “bullet”.

  60. @Galeandra, that comment defines only yourself.

    @Gerard, I never suggested all race-based matters are part of the political process. I do say that most of them are perceived as political issues and viewed from political ideological perspectives – yours included.

    Anybody can be offended about anything. What they can do about it is bounded by the law. Generally the proper solution to those who exercise their right to say things you object to is equally free speech in return.

    I think almost all racists are stupid people. Neither Holmes nor Brash are stupid and both have had inter-racial personal relationships. Personally, I regard those who then claim them to be racist as idiots.

    As for the Maori radicals, who were clearly the target of Holmes’ column to anyone not blinded by the red fog of Leftist hatred, his “vehement venting of spleen” was simply returning like for like – and accordingly welcomed by many.

  61. @Kimbo
    Thanks again for your thoughts. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the discussion amidst the lesson planning for my classical studies classes this year. Blog thinking offers a stimulating break from the regimen of gathering pedagogical thoughts and notes. I note your request that I suggest rehabilitation for Paul Holmes. This is how my mind works with regard to such a question. I see it, in Wittgensteinian terms, as a pseudo-question, because I can’t answer it. As I said, I can know Paul Holmes only as a media construct. (Brian Edwards can know him as a friend and makes no suggestion whatsoever that he is in need of therapy; in fact, he valorises the man.) How can I begin to know whether Paul Holmes needs rehabilitation? All I have done is make comment on his media utterances (which, as is obvious, I, along with others, have found problematic). I note that many others disagree and see him as both consummate in his broadcasting and credible as a columnist. That is the beauty of this country – pluralism survives, even though it doesn’t thrive! I certainly have no wish for a witch hunt. Paul has been knighted by the government of the day. Congratulations. It just happens to be my thought that because of the problematic utterances, I don’t feel comfortable about endorsing his accolade (what a slight little statement about the world that actually is from a forlorn, underpaid school teacher at New Year mired in classical websites, Word, Powerpoint and Prezi). Given that this is all really about predilection (how whimsical,irrelevant but inevitable such a notion is), I think Brian Edwards should be knighted for services to broadcasting.

  62. @ Gerard

    “I don’t feel comfortable about endorsing his accolade”.

    Ok. Fair enough. That isn’t unreasonable. There are folks who get gongs that I think all of us may have reservations about. even when we filter out the “tribal politics” factor. That isn’t a witch hunt, nor a holier-than-thou attitude, nor the instigation for a show-trial. I withdraw my comments.

    And keep up the good work with the classical studies. “Alea iacta est”, and all that…

  63. @ Alan Wilkinson 14.56
    ‘Anybody can be offended about anything. What they can do about it is bounded by the law. Generally the proper solution to those who exercise their right to say things you object to is equally free speech in return.’
    I note you start with the word ‘Generally’, and so I’m aware there may be an unarticulated concept rather than an unwitting lacuna in your thinking. Within the law aren’t you missing out (through the word ‘Generally’) discussion of the other institutions available in a democracy such as the broadcasting standards authority and the press council? You can go there to test whether the apparent ‘free speech’ is ‘offensive speech’ and get a ruling. NZ democracy doesn’t mean anything goes. There is a constraint on speech. At certain times people don’t want to take part in debate because they regard the original comments as beneath verbal contempt, and would rather test an arbiter’s ruling, whatever it is. That doesn’t mean those who enjoyed the original comments can’t have their position – they have it, because what’s been said has been said, and once uttered can never be erased. However, those who found the comments offensive can at least have some peace of mind that an independent ruling may uphold their concern. If it does, that legitimises a different audience, keeping the democracy supple in plurality, suppleness precluding potential arthritic monologic.

  64. Holmes Maori bashing in his Herald article was disgusting, combined with other incidences of bigotry I don’t have any time for the man.

    I would suggest that his bigotry is difficult to understand if you come from a similar demographic to him.

  65. @ kimbo

    I intrude into your conversation with Gerard because your comments are doing my head in.

    “…Holmes sure voiced our outrage at the attack upon democracy when our elected political leader, irrespective of John Key’s politics was shouted down at Waitangi when he attempted to outline for the benefit of the nation via the assembled media his government’s policy..”

    Perhaps the reason democracy is so fragile in this country such that “a group of hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision (Holmes, Feb 11, 2012) can easily attack and render it voiceless is because it is built on stolen lands, broken promises and a Treaty that continues to be dis-honoured.

    You appear to hold yourself out as representative of the voice of the majority of New Zealanders who you believe have an aversion to racism and “an ideological class/gender/race/sexual orientation ‘them-and-us’ power division that forms the PRIMARY perspective on how they view life and their country.” In effect you are saying that the majority of New Zealanders have their PRIMARY collective snout wedged firmly in a grand orifice of delusion.

    The majority of New Zealanders are ideologically stunted (it’s all about the money) and morally munted (the Treaty is an irrelevance).

    The majority most certainly distinguish themselves from the minority in terms of class (bene-bashers), gender (pay inequities), sexual orientation (transgender rights) and race (“…at long last Paul a public figure has come out & stated the blindingly obvious. Waitangi Day & its associated bitterness & reverse racism must go”… “Paul Holmes – I LOVE YOU! You have transcended the insanity of political correctness and exposed once and for all, without doubt or hesitation, those seeking perennial entitlement – those who contribute nothing but a raging, ugly, nihilistic edge to the once civil portrait of this beautiful country. You are brave and you are righteous and you are a true patriot for having the courage to say it the way it is”…” We have decided as a family that this Waitangi Day was the last we would try to celebrate as a special day. The goodwill our family has tried to extend to Maori and the conscious effort to understand their place in our society has also come to an end. Until there is a change in behaviour and a willingness to take responsibility for their own behaviour / problems we are not interested in their history or way of life”).

    Absolutely Paul Holmes deserves a knighthood in recognition of his efforts towards revitalising the cultural supremacy of the majority and for his righteous stance against those ugly raging Māoris.

    The majority of New Zealanders are not only stuck in a black hole of ignorance – they also face backwards.

  66. @Gerard, generally again, I have little time for arbitrary censors like the BSA and Press Council. If you can’t make your own strong case stand or fall on its merits it doesn’t make it any stronger to have it approved by a bunch of tame bureaucrats whether politically or sector annointed.

    I guess it can placate those whose egoes are so weak they need support as you imply.

  67. I count myself among the ranks of those who are unconvinced that Paul Holmes’ body of work (after consulting his biography at and another profile at is sufficient to merit a knighthood, particularly when he has already been generously compensated for much of his work from the public purse. However, the Governor-General only acts in this regard on the advice of the Prime Minister and I fail to trust John Key’s judgment in so many fields already.

    Aside from his early advocacy for Eve van Grafhorst and HIV/AIDS in New Zealand, I am struggling to think of how Paul Holmes has enriched public life in New Zealand. His interviews did little to expose new information to the public at large. Yes, he was indeed full of sound and fury, but he signified nothing. I would regard him as more a Bill O’Reilly than an Edward R Murrow or a Sir Michael Parkinson.

  68. @Adele

    “Perhaps the reason democracy is so fragile in this country such that “a group of hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision (Holmes, Feb 11, 2012) can easily attack and render it voiceless is because it is built on stolen lands, broken promises and a Treaty that continues to be dis-honoured”.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps dialectic hegemony haters just wanna hate.

    “You appear to hold yourself out as representative of the voice of the majority of New Zealanders…”

    No. I interpret what the majority of New Zealanders want on the basis of how they vote. Generally for non-ideological pragmatic governments, and the main Opposition Party is usually cut from the same cloth.

    “In effect you are saying that the majority of New Zealanders have their PRIMARY collective snout wedged firmly in a grand orifice of delusion.”

    No, I think that it is you holding yourself as the arbiter of truth over what you think New Zealanders SHOULD think. Good luck on selling your message, but I’ll give you a hint – describe people with their, “snout wedged firmly in a grand orifice of delusion”, “ideologically stunted”, “morally munted”, “stuck in a black hole of ignorance”, and “they also face backwards”,

    …and not only are you unlikely to win many from the majority opposing view to your opinion, but you also get an intemperate column such as Holmes wrote…and a chorus from lots more, singing, “and so say all of us”.

    Trust that assists with the, “doing my head in” thing.

  69. Dear Adele. If you signed the Treaty, honour it. I didn’t. Neither do I want my grandson with Maori genes treated any differently from my other mokopuna. All are equally fine and capable descendents of the human species and inherit all of its fine attributes, history and wisdom
    They need no assistance from self-righteous divisive haters of which we evidently have an oversupply. Regards, Alan.


  71. @kimbo

    Admittedly, I do hate narrow-minds and dishonesty.

    Your interpretation is wrong. That the majority of New Zealanders wouldn’t know an ideology if it bit them on the neck and sucked dry their lifeblood does not equate with them being ideologically pure.

    They vote for governments that will uphold their worldview – a perspective coloured beige with pink undertones. Brown people need only assimilate fully to enjoy the fruits of beigedom.

    Both sides of the political debate (left/right) are strongly flavoured neo-liberal – and if neo-liberalism is not an ideology than it surely is a religion. Mammon is the deity and John Key and David Shearer are its profits here on Earth.

    Māori have long ago given up on genuflecting to the morally moribund mass. 200 years of protestation, petitioning and pandering to coloniser anxieties have made nary a dent in the ignorance and prejudice underscoring the majority opinion.

    We no longer care what the majority of New Zealanders think but will continue to voice strongly our points of view and Waitangi Day is an appropriate forum for this to occur. That you or others don’t like the message is simply too bad.

    Again, Paul Holmes richly deserves his knighthood in furtherance of a failed ideology still adhered to by the majority of New Zealanders.

  72. @ Alan Wilkinson 22.41
    Alan, analogies have been used throughout this threaded discussion, and here I attempt another one in reply to your last point.I’ve taught English and classical studies in New Zealand classrooms for thirty-two years. Occasionally, in class stereotypical characterisations of Maori and Polynesian students occur in either under the breath comments or as part of a more formal piece of written text. When it happens there is always a hush. What is that hush about? In my view the hush is signalling there is now only one psychological aspect important in the room: how will the teacher react? You quickly see it’s about the balance between the rights of free speech and the question of offensiveness and how the teacher will handle the matter. At this point there is an utterer, an audience and an arbiter. In the cases where it has happened, as that arbiter, I have always ruled the comment out, declared it out of order, and in one particular instance asked the student to apologise, because the risk of not doing so was to create a seething group or a retaliatory one with attempted offensive words or, in a secondary school context, playground fists. Words can be experienced as bullets and potential revenge sagas could easily ensue (and do). In my view institutions like the BSA or Press Council are the arbiters that act as a social safety valve, inhibiting untrammelled offensiveness or potential retaliation for it.
    I’m not arguing left or right politics. I’m suggesting that in a context of social realism if there weren’t arbiters there would be murders. Is the analogy false?

  73. @ Adele

    And further to your contention that, “Perhaps the reason democracy is so fragile in this country such that “a group of hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision (Holmes, Feb 11, 2012) can easily attack and render it voiceless is because it is built on stolen lands, broken promises and a Treaty that continues to be dis-honoured”

    …I note that some eleven months after the protests which attracted Holmes’ ire for stopping OUR Prime Minister from making a policy statement to the nation, the supposed reason for their protest has now reached this stage: –

    “The New Zealand Maori Council has been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court over water rights.

    At a three-day High Court hearing in Wellington last month, the council unsuccessfully argued that the Government should establish the extent of Maori ownership rights over freshwater and geothermal resources and make redress for them before the partial sale of Mighty River and other power companies under the Government’s “mixed ownership model”.”

    From which I’d suggest reasonable people will deduce the following: –

    1. It is not “stolen (assets)”, “broken promises”, and “dis-honour” for the government of the day to disagree with Maori over how the Treaty should be applied. Instead, like any relationship, there is sometimes disagreement. The real issue isn’t that you disagree. It is how you resolve that disagreement.

    2. Iwi have a means of redress, first through the Waitangi Tribunal, and also, as this example proves, through the judicial process right up to the Supreme Court (and maybe even the Privy Council in some cases). The fact they can and do exercise that right means democracy is working rather well.

    3. Getting the right to put your case, and be heard, whether by the Crown, or the courts is not the same as having your case accepted. That is what being a subject of the Crown means. No one gets an automatic right to have their requests granted, especially when they use loud and disrespectful means.

    4. You also get the right to protest in an unreasonable and unruly manner, in an attempt to influence/intimidate the Crown, and sway public opinion, just like everyone else.

    5. While 4 is permissible, for most it is the antithesis of how they believe a modern pluralistic democracy should be run, and public policy determined.

    6. As a result, if you do decide to protest in an unreasonable manner, others, including media commentators and people who agree with them, get the right to hold you in contempt, ridicule and scorn you, and question your good faith – just as you questioned the good faith of the Crown in the Treaty settlement process.

    7. It is also highly possible that many who are willing to acknowledge there are historic wrongs to be righted, and who do not take a “rosy glasses” view of our history, and whom have been open-minded and welcoming of the redress process that was given particular focus since 1975, are becoming sorely vexed, and questioning the value and outcomes of that process. This is especially likely when it seems that it is open-slather on the Crown’s alleged lack of good faith every time someone from amongst the aggrieved treaty signatory (and not even a representative or recognised spokesperson of an iwi!) gets to hold democracy to ransom by silencing the PM when he has something to say to the nation.

    Trust that is of further assistance with the “doing my head in thing”.

  74. The Flea Race was a Fred Dagg standard. I always assumed that John Clarke wrote it?

  75. My mother’s occassionally expresses what could be called “racist” views. Not that she means ill will, and she is an absolutely lovely person in her 80s. But I can see that her attitude to many things such as Maori “claims” on water, beaches etc illicits an immediate emotionally negative response. It really was ingrained in her generation brought up on the notion of one New Zealand. It was the way I saw things too when I was young (now 54). It was always obvious to me that Maori were appallingly ripped off, but I couldn’t see how this could be “righted.” I would conjecture that Paul was brought up with the notion of one New Zealand strongly ingrained in him. While redress for past wrongs is something many New Zealanders can understand, a dynamic ongoing relationship between Maori and the crown/non-Maori, is much more subtle and challenging. Paul’s exasperation with the seemingly never-ending Waitangi Day protests, could possibly be seen in this context.

  76. 76

    Nice words Brian. Well said. I am lucky enough to have known Paul ‘as a mate’ for some years now (through our children’s’ friendships, both Milly & Reuben). Paul is without doubt a remarkably well read, interesting, interested, humourous, caring, wonderful fun guy. And yes. Who totally deserves this national recognition for his extraordinary contribution to broadcasting, & the country in general.

  77. @ Adele

    “Brown people need only assimilate fully to enjoy the fruits of beigedom”.

    Not at all. Maori, personally and corporately are free to do as they see fit.

    Which is why…

    “We no longer care what the majority of New Zealanders think (indeed you don’t) but will continue to voice strongly our points of view and Waitangi Day is an appropriate forum for this to occur (indeed you undoubtedly will). That you or others don’t like the message (indeed I/we don’t) is simply too bad (Indeed it is, as applies to your liking of “our” message).

    Good to see democracy and freedom of speech in action. It isn’t always edifying, nor productive, and it doesn’t always produce a meeting of the minds, whether they be “narrow” and “dishonest” or not.

    However, in the spirit in which it operates, a genuine good luck with your intended outcomes, but I fear your methods will prove counter-productive.

  78. @Gerard, which do you think was seen by all concerned as genuine – the original comment or the apology? Which do you think is the proper solution for young people – being told what is officially ok to think or say, or debating out real conflicts and problems?

    I judge people by what is in their heart and head. Their genes are irrelevant. I would prefer students thought their way to the same conclusion.

    As for the BSA and Press Council preventing murder colour me skeptical. I think both are on the edge of obsolescence as the internet renders self-publication economic and effective.

  79. @ Gerard

    “In my view institutions like the BSA or Press Council are the arbiters that act as a social safety valve, inhibiting untrammelled offensiveness or potential retaliation for it”.

    That is certainly their stated intent. However, due to the law of unintended consequences, the opposite of the “safety valve” effect often occurs as a result of their actions.

    Bottom line for me: Your intentions are great, but as much as I would like a world where people are spared from verbal “offensiveness”, a modern democratic state has no valid right to inhibit freedom of speech for the reasons you have given.

  80. @David, the full irrationality of the Treaty today is brought into full view by correcting your “dynamic ongoing relationship”: between Maori and the Crown/Maori/non-Maori. Maori are fully as much part of the Crown as non-Maori New Zealanders. The distinction between the parties is fraudulent.

  81. @Kimbo and @Alan Wilkinson
    I’m the sort of guy who can’t wait till we get a Maori prime minister. Of course, I won’t be around to see it. I’ll be baled up in one of the circles in Dante’s Inferno, but, if you’re in the same circle, look out for me. I’ll be the one poring over a huge textbook called Post-Colonial Textuality in Aotearoa (HarperCollins,2245)and discussing it with Beelzebub.

  82. @Gerard, I don’t care what ethnicity or gender the prime minister is – just that he or she is competent, good and treats all New Zealanders equally and fairly.

    I doubt I’ll be terribly interested in any academic treatise on post-colonial liberal angst. I’ll continue to be too busy sponsoring literacy programmes for decile one schools, rubbing along with my Maori neighbours on three sides and the many nationalities and cultures that enrich our little town.

    As for poor old Paul, his crime was to speak the simple truth. That is what the apoplectic red-necks of the Left find so unforgivable. Had he been wrong his case could have simply been refuted. Since he was right he can only be denied and abused. Or appealed to “authority” as you endorse.

  83. @ Alan:”I don’t care what ethnicity or gender the prime minister is – just that he or she is competent, good and treats all New Zealanders equally and fairly.”

    You must be terribly disappointed at the moment then. Hang on though Alan, we will get one of those PM’s you mention above in 2014, or even earlier if the current incompetent resigns.

  84. @ Alan Wilkinson
    I guess by ‘truth’ you mean truth as Plato believed: that it was out there, and with intellectual application to the search for it we could find it. Trouble is, as the Holy Roman Empire metastasised, that inclination became papist and arrogant. Me, I’m in the Nietzschean school (ie truth is perspectival, ‘a mobile army of metaphors’) and therefore the ideological marketplace contains a contest between those perspectives, which, in a democracy, can be adjudicated like a boxing match (by points decision)every three years.

  85. Interesting – I just wanted to read what BE, whose views often agree with mine!, had to say about Paul Holmes (& even when I don’t he is usu witty and gracious and self-putdowning! And got drawn in to these spark-offs which are interesting in their own way.

    Actually, not irrelevantly, I like in an ex-P house which had to be completely renovated and then still exudes. Nothing compared to its effect on minds.

    When I went down the road to the shopping centre on moving in I saw flyers up sponsored by the man himself about symptoms of P, what to look out for – for parents: practical, caring, responsible. His own way of sorrows in this regard was something he exploited or wallowed in but made a springboard to redressing the problem in such a way people became aware and began to rethink. That in itself was a great contribution. Many others I have learned about recently.

    When I was out of work in the big A I once sent Paul my CV asking if he had need of any researchers. He replied, personally, to the negative but in such a positive and supportive way it made a difference – and an exception to the other scores.

    I liked what Brian had to say and the kudos he gave – as well as the distinctions David has made. I think it is good to honour the way he broke the mould for feeling good about being ourselves and participating in the talk about who we are, want to be, could be.

    I remember I didn’t agree with a lot of his radio ‘simple answers to complex question’ regarding many of them as simplistic – but he provoked us into thinking about issues and what we were going to do about them.

    Btw, I mentioned my admiration to a friend who said he could never forgive him for taking 700, 000 of the public funds working for TV1? I dunno! That debate is as important, perhaps, as the racism/state of race relations, but by god,left,right – and even Beelzebubbery, whoever she is – he has worked hard. I hope he takes it easy, takes all the stress out of his life, and gives himself a chance at a much longer, creative life. He deserves that and a lot more.

    (I think David last remarks are right in him being also a product of his environment, as we all are.) I still hear racism in both city and province – the darkie one too, quite recently, obviously reflecting parents’ views – but how fortunate are we, as Gerard says, to have a political range of voices to express who we are, our gripes.)

    And I hope to hell, Paul is not reading some of these. You don’t fight what he has to by stressing more? HNY

    Goodonyou, Paul. And Brian.

  86. @Kat, you are a tease.

    @Stv, great comments. Congrats.

    @Gerard, as as scientist by training I tend to the Popperian view that truth is perpetually sought and refined by attempts at falsification. I certainly don’t have any faith in the ballot box or even “consensus” either as an arbiter or as a mechanism for attaining it.

    So for me all claims to truth have to be tested against experience and data. Many will be rejected immediately. Some will survive with provisional approval. All may be subject to later revision or rejection.

    So neither dogmatic like the Pope, nor entirely relativistic like Nietzche.

  87. @Alan Wilkinson
    Scientist, may be. But the topics that have sinuously, perhaps deviously and unkindly (given Paul’s health) infiltrated this thread concern questions of race relations, the importance and status of regulatory institutions within a democracy and free speech (with a locus here on the distinction between free and offensive speech). Karl Popper, in his book The Open Society and its Enemies, was all about deconstructing the culturally deified Plato and Marx, all about detecting totalising thought and dismantling it and so excavating a clearing path for fresh thought useful to the individual. Popper believed that society must be open to alternative points of view.

  88. @Gerard, I see no contradiction at all between those Popperian principles and what I have espoused here. The Left have culturally deified PC thought and the Treaty Principles nonsense, enshrined it in legislation and with the likes of de Bries in high office – and reacted with fury when Paul challenged it. You yourself have approved and adopted the methods of totalising thought by shutting down debate and dissention. I can rest my case surely?

  89. I think it’s a great shame, that among some of us, it’s hard to value daring that (from time to time) causes dissent. He dared more than most. His broadcasting style (to me) has always been to be so fully present. Good. I love that (right up to retirement) he could make an audience gasp! Yet, there was giant heart too. Many will settle for safe, standard, ordinary and even mediocre — I’m glad he never did. We are a better nation because of it. Thank you Paul Holmes.

  90. @ Alan Wilkinson:

    I congratulate you for coining the memorable “apoplectic red-necks of the Left”.

    That ranks right up there with “effete snobs”, “pusillanimous pussyfooters” and “nattering nabobs of negativism”.

    @ Gail Penney:

    Do you have candles in your shrine to this saint? Have you thought of having your devotedness registered as a religion?

  91. @Morrissey, I was hoping to scale the heights of “haters and wreckers” one day.

    But not on someone as good-hearted as Gail.

  92. @ Morrissey, strikingly irrelevant points off topic but your candour is duly noted

  93. 93

    Of course I only know the media Holmes, but I’ve always regarded him as a self-serving and very second rate broadcaster/journalist who uses controversy and hyperbole to compensate (successfully, alas) for various shortcomings. Brian, clearly I love you, or I wouldn’t be here reading your site, but I’m concerned that, with respect to THAT column, you are defending the indefensible. Well it may reflect the views of some, but it was amateur, woefully written, and it exhibited extremely poor judgement by both Holmes and the Herald editorship.

  94. @Warren, as usual from the Left, you are deadly adamant about your dislike of Holmes’ opinion but provide absolutely no refutation of its content.

    Exactly where was he wrong and you right? Should the media publish only opinions of which you and the chattering classes approve? That would be extremely poor editorial judgement.

  95. “After a very long year we’ve got a very short knight”

    Although originally said of someone else, still very applicable here.

  96. @ Alan Wilkinson
    Are the following quotes from Paul’s column appropriate from a knight?
    1.‘… never mind the hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children and stop them bashing their babies.’

    2.‘No, if Maori want Waitangi Day for themselves, let them have it. Let them go and raid a bit more kai moana than they need for the big, and feed themselves silly, speak of the injustices heaped upon them by the greedy Pakeha and work out new ways of bamboozling the Pakeha to come up with a few more millions.’

  97. @Warren Loveridge: “Of course I only know the media Holmes, but I’ve always regarded him as a self-serving and very second rate broadcaster/journalist who uses controversy and hyperbole to compensate (successfully, alas) for various shortcomings.”

    Quite true Warren. One of those shortcomings is definitely good judgement. Fancy thinking that “sex on a stick” bimbo Sarah Palin should be taken seriously.

    It is obvious that Paul is an old mate of Brians and being only human like us all, his standards of media criticism regarding Holmes are going to be altered more than a tad in favour of not upsetting an old and long friendship. Gone are the days when the fresh and urbane young Dr Edwards came to NZ and found taking on the bigroty in our culture like shooting fish in a barrel. He has been here long enough to become unavoidably part of an old boys’ network of the egotistical, self congratulatory mutual admiration society of the NZ media world.

  98. 98

    @Alan Wilkinson:

    Alan, you boldly conclude, quite erroneously, that I am a member of the “chattering classes” on the Left, an assumption that seems to be based solely on the fact that I dissed on Saint Paul Holmes. It is, in fact, quite possible to dwell on the Right, vote National, like Brian Edwards, and dislike Paul Holmes – all at the same time. Although I raised the issue of THAT column, I was speaking of him generally; I have found him unpalatable ever since his first appearance on nightly television back in 1989. It therefore didn’t occur to me that I needed to refute THAT column point by point, particularly since (and this will truly surprise you) I agree with at least some of the sentiments in it, if not the exceptionally disagreeable manner in which they were expressed. Holmes’s columns tend to be more opiniated diatribe than opinion, peppered with a strong seasoning of self-promotion (and the occasional blatant promotion of his own brand olive oil), and of an amateur nature that betrays his origins in broadcast, rather than print, media. He is no writer.

    Gerard, I second all that.

  99. @Alan:”…as usual from the Left, you are deadly adamant about your dislike of Holmes….”

    Alan, get off all this ‘left’ nonsense, you are starting to make more of a fool of yourself than usual.

  100. 100

    @Gerard, are they true or false? Support your answer with evidence. A knight should speak the truth.

  101. @Warren, all kinds of things are possible. However some are much more likely than others others and pretentious snobbery is characteristic of the chardonay socialist chattering classes. So now you retreat to agreeing with much of what Holmes said but despising his expression of it.

    Maybe you should just reflect on how ludicrous it appears for you to be calling this lifelong professional broadcaster a second-rate amateur.

  102. @Kat, you just provided yet another example of the Left’s immediate and inevitable resort to playing the man having nothing constructive to contribute.

  103. The general opinion I’ve heard is that Holmes is an inappropriate choice for a knighthood because his professional persona is somewhat undiginified. Then again, Mick Jagger has one, so that ship has already sailed.

    In twenty years we will be discussing Sir Cameron Slater, no doubt.

  104. @Alan Wilkinson
    With regard to the two quotes I provided (17.17), do you believe they’re true?

  105. 105

    @Alan: You have coughed up a semantic issue concerning the terms “professional” and “amateur”. Let me raise another: “broadcaster” and “journalist”. In my opinion, Holmes is the former, not the latter. The fence between the two has holes in it, certainly, but to me an opinion piece in a newspaper falls squarely into the journalist’s territory, and regardless of whether Holmes is paid for it or not, his column is the work of an amateur; a pejorative statement that refers to the quality of his writing, not its remunerative status. So let’s get onto another issue: my temerity in expressing a negative opinion of Holmes followed by an apparent attempt to “retreat” into agreeing with him. You confuse two very different matters.

    No doubt Paul Holmes and I would agree on many things (for example, we both like olive oil), however this has no bearing on my opinion of his professional (paid or unpaid) abilities. Furthermore, we live in a modern democracy that allows, values and encourages free speech. Paul Holmes is free to express his opinions. I am free to express my opinion of Paul Holmes. You are free to express your opinion of me. But with broadcasters and journalists we move to the next base. They deliberately place their opinions before the public for debate, discussion, opinion and argument. It is their raison d’etre. Yet my opinion of a lifelong professional broadcaster and/or his opinions is ludicrous? I think I’ve just spotted a naked emperor. Am I also not allowed to hold opinions on, for example, lifelong professional architects, rock stars, authors, artists and street-sweepers? All their work is on public view, contributing to our society, culture and well-being, and inviting opinion. Or perhaps it is just a negative opinion that you object to? Am I allowed to sing Sir Paul’s praises, or those of Sir Miles Warren, or Caravaggio, or my son’s school teacher, but not criticise them? That kind of PC belongs over on the Left, Alan, and I have the impression that you are neither left nor PC.

    Time is short, so I wish to avoid an everlasting debate regarding free speech, acceptable boundaries, regulation, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Broadcasting Standards Authority. To turn from the general to the particular, it is entirely possible to agree with some of the sentiments in THAT column, yet disagree entirely with the manner in which they were expressed. I agree that Waitangi Day has become a tiresome farce that sadly reflects the divisions in our society far more than the unity. But I object to what I judge to be a bigoted and incitive column that does nothing to constructively discuss problems that desperately require constructive discussion. Holmes frequently resorts to the tactics of the shock-jock, making outrageous and provocative statements that deliberately inflame. Maybe this works in the realm of talkback radio – I can’t say, I never listen to it – but as a print piece it appears spectacularly ill-judged and poorly written. The work of an amateur.

  106. @Alan, as the last PM that fits your description of ‘competent, good and treats all New Zealanders equally and fairly’ famously said to the then petulant leader of the ‘right’ DIDDUMS!!

  107. @ Gerard

    “With regard to the two quotes I provided (17.17), do you believe they’re true?”

    Umm, I’m watching this exchange with interest, but in the interests of all things being done, “decently and in order”, I point out that Alan asked the first question in the direct exchange between the two of you, Gerard: –

    “@ Gerard, are they true or false? Support your answer with evidence. A knight should speak the truth”.

    It’s just that I’m intrigued to see how someone who is willing to use “20% of our students are being left behind, and disproportionately those students are Maori and Polynesian” as a rhetorical and factual basis for their opinion is going to deal with another statistic where Maori are disproportionately represented.

    But then both you and Alan Wilkinson realise that already, don’t you…?

  108. @ Wayne Loveridge

    “Let me raise another: “broadcaster” and “journalist”. In my opinion, Holmes is the former, not the latter”.

    Hmm. I’m reminded of the difference between Winston McCarthy and TP McLean. McCarthy, the professional auctioneer/salesman was a magnificent broadcaster, partly because of his “story-telling” ability. Some of the stories he told when he ventured into were poor, or at least unbalanced analysis – but they were very entertaining, they created a climate into which people bought in wholesale, and marked him out as something special.

    McLean, in contrast would martial the facts in a reasonably dispassionate manner, although his prose was always polished and often inspiring, if somewhat complex.

    McCarthy’s place in the pantheon of New Zealand broadcasters is secure, because broadcasting, while sharing many of the traits of print journalism, is a medium that interacts more directly with the senses and therefore more directly with the emotions. Which, if it is your point of difference, will spill over when you try other mediums.

    Which is what the Waitangi Day piece set out to do, and why some were appalled at it, and others felt it reflected their outrage perfectly.

  109. @Gerard, put back in their proper context, yes. Unfortunately the failure of Maori youth in education and the disproportionate number of Maori men convicted of terrible violence against infants and children as well as other crimes is simple fact.

    Likewise their endless claims on the taxpayer where just the legal expenses run into many millions.

  110. @Warren, for very many years on Newztalk ZB Paul wrote and presented an opinion piece as part of the show. Your attempted distinction between broadcasting and journalism is as misapplied as your “amateur” derision.

    Of course you are allowed to hold whatever opinion you wish just as I am allowed to judge it ludicrous.

    I’m still waiting to hear what you think was outrageous or incorrect in what Holmes wrote, or, for that matter, what you thought was bigoted?

  111. @Kat, in view of the fact that Labour then lost 7 seats and the election to National which gained 10, does that comment qualify for “famous last words”?

  112. @Kimbo
    The 20% statistic about underachievement is a useful description of a problem in contemporary NZ education. It is the effect of unsuccessful schooling we see in front of us. The debate will be around the causes. Cause and effect ratiocination is called for – that is why I’m always interested in the methodology by which ideas are presented. If there’s no problem with the 20% underachievement stat, then surely we (New Zealanders) need to have a serious discussion about causes (to sustain the analogy, like a physician is diagnostic about illness).

    When you shift your gaze a bit, you see associated with underachievement socio-economic discrepancies, entrenched fury and, not uncommonly, high rates of incarcerations. For Maori, in particular, there are some poignant stories. That seems to be the point at which some people blame Maori simply because of their ethnicity. However, post-colonial discourses point out the effects of colonisation on the indigenous people (imagine banning the language and the consequences of that). I often wonder what New Zealand would be like now for Europeans if the Japanese had colonised us in the 1940’s and made our parents/grandparents speak Japanese.

    So what I’m suggesting is that the statistic is caused by trauma, and because of that remedial strategies need to be instituted. If Maori and Polynesian students are encouraged, for instance, to read writers from their own culture they can see their own world mirrored in front of them and therefore engage with texts imaginatively and emotionally and start to record their responses to the texts with energy and accuracy and get academic rewards for mastering analysis. This shift in pedagogy has happened because of the recognition that the unreconstructed curriculum was further damaging minorities, that literary European worlds without supplements provided from their own culture caused further trauma.

    I wonder how I would have felt going to schools where Japan was the ambience and I had no access to Irish, English and Danish literature which is the salad of my ancestry. In NZ I grew up immersed in writers like Joyce, Shakespeare, Kierkegaard (and delighted in them). I see light go on in the eyes of Maori and Polynesian students when they read some of the wonderful young Maori and Samoan writers reaching publication standard – they get it. They’ve got a mirror for their social/emotional worlds.

    So breaking the discussion into cause and effect, my contribution is that the cause is not indolence but trauma and that one solution is to make sure the curriculum accommodates their psychological needs because of it. I’m not being ‘left’ here, I’m being analytical about an educational problem to seek solution.

    Then again, I’m well aware that the above argument falls over if the logical steps in it are seen as an example of fallacious reasoning (ie trauma is not the cause but indolence, as some people would have it). I’m aware that being doctrinal about the causes can further inflame. However, I came to see an endemic indolence was not the cause of underachievement but dissociation from the learning process so many Maori (not all) couldn’t connect because the curriculum didn’t engage them. In making that dichotomy (trauma/indolence) I don’t believe it’s a false one. Teachers can fix the problem slowly but surely. It’s just that they need support to do it; it’s a huge job in resource building.

    So to finish, given I think in the above way (positing that the cause is trauma not indolence but that such a proposition is contestable) with respect to ratiocination in Paul Holmes’ column I couldn’t see any. All he did was catalogue effects in a contemptuous tone – what’s necessary is to analyse causes and seek solutions. The two quotes I provided for Alan to comment on contained sweeping generalisations and argumentum ad hominem, two of the flaws in reasoning we make sure our Year 11 students conquer.

  113. Yes. A well deserved award to Paul.
    He is a face of New Zealand. He’s been a goer, an encourager to the under-represented, a stirrer, an emotional guy – we need these people that are willing to stand up and take the sh*t – and give a bit of sh*t back too. Three cheers to you Paul.
    Thank you Brian.

  114. 114

    Bigoted and outrageous? Let’s go with these examples:

    “…irrational Maori ghastliness…”
    “…the usual neurotic Maori politics…”
    “…paying the usual millions into the hands of the Maori aristocracy…”
    “…loony Maori fringe self-denial day…”
    “…the hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children and stop them bashing their babies…”
    “It’s all about hating whitey.”
    “…go and raid a bit more kai moana than they need…”
    “…work out new ways of bamboozling the Pakeha…”

    Nothing constructive here; nothing that might help address the undeniable problems we face. Nothing but a tirade guaranteed to whip other bigots into a frenzy. Not just bigoted and outrageous, but irresponsible, nasty, small-minded and amateur.

  115. @Warren, “irrational Maori ghastliness” – 20 Maori protestors rushing at the PM, injuring a cameraman and being held back by Maori wardens; “the usual neurotic Maori politics” – protests against asset sales, deep sea drilling and shouting down the PM’s attempt to discuss same; “looney Maori fringe self-denial day” – Maori women and elders having to be removed for their own safety; “paying the usual millions onto the hands of the Maori aristocracy” – the lucrative Treaty industry gravy train grinds ever onward; “it’s all about hating whitey” – the Harawira family made this into an art form; “go and raid a bit more kai moana than they need” – I seem to recall Horomia blaming his figure on too many hui;”work out new ways of bamboozling the pakeha – Eddie Durie and the rest of the Waitangi Tribunal have spent the year doing exactly that.

  116. @Gerard, both trauma and indolence are quite inadequate as causal explanations in my opinion. Bad culture, bad ideas, bad role models and bad peer pressure are far more relevant.

    Projects like “I have a dream” address these and have results to show for it. So do older projects like “Philosophy in Schools” but unfortunately have never been pushed in NZ.

  117. @ Gerard

    “The 20% statistic about underachievement is a useful description of a problem in contemporary NZ education. It is the effect of unsuccessful schooling we see in front of us. The debate will be around the causes”.

    Indeed. However, if it suits your case to quote certain facts that supposedly demonstrate the, “effects of colonisation”, and “trauma”, it is also valid for others with a different point of view to allude to (as arguably Holmes did with the “bashing their babies” phrase) discrepancies in other stats – and not be dismissed out of hand, or labeled a racist, or engaging in “sweeping generalisations” because of it.

    “That seems to be the point at which some people blame Maori simply because of their ethnicity”.

    Er, no. I think Holmes was blaming a certain group of Maori, who presumed to act as spokespeople for all of Maoridom for bad choices, including how they acted that Waitangi Day, which was symptomatic of their on-going capacity for bad choices.

    “I came to see an endemic indolence was not the cause of underachievement but dissociation from the learning process so many Maori (not all) couldn’t connect because the curriculum didn’t engage them”.

    Yeah, and I don’t think Holmes thinks there is endemic laziness in Maori. But he did highlight what he perceived as the warped values of a particular sub-culture who proclaim themselves as representatives, which in his opinion mayy contribute to their failure.

    Either way, keep up the good work at the coal face educating NZ kids of whatever colour and creed.

  118. @Alan, but then as you say, a good knight or Dame should speak the truth, no matter the consequences.

  119. @Alan Wilkinson
    I acknowledged that my argument may have been inadequate (but the thought process was discernible). I have a problem with your method of arguing. You write a declarative sentence but you don’t provide any clarifying definitons and exemplification following it so I can see whether or not you are persuasive. I’m referring to the sentence: ‘Bad culture, bad ideas, bad role models and bad peer pressure are far more relevant.’

    Can you provide some definitions of ‘bad culture’ etc and examples so I can follow an argument, not an unsupported assertion?

  120. @Gerard, bad culture: too much grog and drugs, too little reading, literature and reading, inability to plan and work for the future, lack of respect for personal property.

    Bad ideas: inadequate personal respect and values, disrespect for education, denigration of others’ achievements, beliefs in separatism, tribes and gangs, fatalistic and helpless life view.

    Bad role-models: teaching all of above plus neglect, abuse and criminality.

    Bad peer pressure: social pressure to conform to lowest common denominator and fail with them.

    I would have thought that was all pretty obvious, especially to a teacher?

  121. Oops, first sentence was meant to say “and intelligent conversation” – not “and reading”.

  122. Alan, you’re arguing in good faith; Alan Wilkinson is not.

  123. 123

    Alan, you’re either missing or deliberately obfuscating my point. I’ve tried to make it clear that I’m not taking aim at the truth or otherwise of Holmes’s statements, but the objectionable style in which he made them. You claim that by “irrational Maori ghastliness” he meant only 20 Maori protestors rushing at the PM, but one has to draw a fairly long bow to infer that directly from the statement itself. Holmes certainly doesn’t make any attempt to clarify, and it appears the majority of punters in the comment section have comprehended it in the general sense.

    Anyway, it is a pleasure to come and join the stirring and combative debate here on Brian’s site. As a lifelong professional engineer, logic, argument and debate were not strongly emphasized components of my education, so it is invigorating to throw myself in front of wolves like Alan and have to defend myself. Character building stuff, and far, far more rewarding than attempting to join the ranting masses who populate the comment sections of the regular media sites.

  124. @ Alan Wilkinson
    So presuming all those categories and descriptions apply to Maori culture (you don’t actually say that), they imply massive social problems.

    Next question: what’s the solution?

  125. @ Warren Loveridge
    ‘…so it is invigorating to throw myself in front of wolves like Alan and have to defend myself.’

    Warren, in the world of argumentation the wolves are fine, it’s the foxes you’ve got to worry about.

  126. 126

    Particularly if you live in a hen house, Gerard.

  127. The Three Wolves and the Fox: A Postmodern Fable

    Once upon a time in a renovated villa in Whanganui three wolves and a fox sat at a kitchen table. Things were going well until about 11pm when Wolf 1 said it was time NZ fixed up the social welfare problem. He said it nervously because the topic had been a sore point for months and caused a feud as the fox had disagreed with them on earlier occasions. Merlot from Hawkes Bay had kicked in, and so the very mention of remediation of social welfare pricked the ears of the other wolves and the fox, all of whom had tired of keeping one eye on the NRL because the Warriors were losing again, and the wolves’ wives were talking children in the other room.
    Wolf 2 said, ‘Pray tell, Wolf 1, how would you fix it? I thought we’d been over this.’
    Wolf 3 said, ‘I know how I’d fix it.’
    Fox sipped his merlot. ‘This is a very fine drop. Where does it come from?’
    ‘Especially imported from Gimblett Gravels. I know the winemaker,’ said Wolf 2, the host.
    ‘I would go further than our previous discussions. I would fix it by abolishing it,’ said Wolf 1. ‘Everyone would stand on their own two feet.’
    Fox turned away from the disappointing screen. ‘So we would have more beggars?’
    ‘Better than drawing on our taxes. The pricks.’ Wolf 3 clicked on his Galaxy to check the Whaleoil site. He was soon in a more inspired space.
    ‘Look, it’s not our responsibility to feed and educate those who bludge,’ said Wolf 1, looking nervously at Fox.
    ‘Would you put anything in their hat or their bowl?’ asked Fox, looking at the wolves one by one.
    ‘At least that would show some enterprise,’ said Wolf 3. ‘Yes, If they put out a hat or a bowl, I’d donate. I reckon I could get some of the techies at work to chip in as well.’
    ‘Would it be tax deductible?’ asked Wolf 2. ‘That could generate more work for us.’
    ‘It would have to be,’ said Wolf 1. ‘Have to be, otherwise, where’s the incentive?’
    ‘What would happen to those whom no-one put any money in their bowls or hats?’ asked Fox.
    ‘Free market applies. Beg well, and you’ll be paid. Scrub up and become a good beggar,’ said Wolf 1. ‘Look as if you’re about to apply for a job.’
    ‘I’m rather minded that we could be a bit bolder,’ said Fox.
    ‘Good to see you’ve come on board, Foxy. Seen sense at last. I’m all for bold solutions or else we’re going down the gurgler,’ said the host.
    ‘I’ve been thinking,’ said Fox, ‘we could have a temporary job creation scheme.’
    ‘What? Government funded?’ said exasperated Wolf 1.
    ‘What I’m suggesting is we could solve several problems all at once. We could, you see, provide all unemployed Maori with a gun, much like they did when there were wars for them to go to, and they could shoot all the solos and the sick. There would be a boost in the armaments industry, Maori would be gainfully employed, and funeral parlours would be flat out for quite some time.’
    ‘But that would be a boom and bust cycle in the economy,’ said Wolf 3.
    ‘I’m suggesting a graduated scheme. There would have to be an announcement this was to happen. That would mean quite a few would leave for Australia, because they feared for their lives. Then the work would start. Lots more would leave once they saw the employment scheme kick in. So by our enterprise plus assimilation elsewhere we would have solved the problem and not created a boom/bust cycle.’
    ‘Jeez, those Warriors are total dog tucker,’ said the host. ‘At least you’re thinking in the right way, but that won’t work, because the government would pay for it out of our taxes. That’s the bleeding we’re trying to stanch.’
    ‘You can now, you know, hire private militia to do killing. In Somalia, for instance, it’s done. We could hire a UN sanctioned militia to train Maori and then, with them trained, offer them employment when their contract is over in Aotearoa.’
    The three wolves looked into their glasses, and all looked radiant. Wolf 1 said, ‘Just shows you, the answers are there in front of us all the time.’
    Wolf 3 agreed. ‘If only we had eyes to see, as Sister Anastasia used to say in primer 4.’
    ‘That actually fixes everything in one go,’ said Wolf 2. ‘Class sizes go down, hospital waiting lists. You’ve nailed it.’
    Mrs Wolf 1 came into the kitchen. She put on a blue veil. ‘My dear, it’s time to go, our babysitter will be very tired.’
    ‘Soon, my dear. We’re just about to sort out the Warriors.’
    ‘We want to hear his next scheme. It’s just as important,’ said Wolf 2.
    ‘Well, be quick now,’ she said, glaring at Fox. ‘We’ve got church in the morning. Some of us have kept the faith.’

  128. Good on Holmes.
    Congratulations for the gong.
    I have been one to rake Holmes over the coals on Brian’s site, about a tired contribution in his Herald column re. Maori browbeating – a year or so back.

    Holmes has done his thing for decades – decades.
    He has been risk-taking, thorny, irreverent, nauseating, thought provoking, tenacious, right, wrong, humorous, generous. He has been there.

    Some say shame for shaking sensibilities every once in a blue moon.

    I say Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

  129. @Gerard, I already named two solutions. I think both have the two necessary components – intellectual stretching out of the confines of the limiting culture and good role models to trust and emulate.

    I need to clarify your assumption too. The problems I listed don’t apply to all Maori culture – just to the dysfunctional groups within it – and are not unique to Maori at all.

  130. @Warren, a wolf?! No, a mere teddy bear though with a hankering for truth, logic and wisdom.

    I think you mistake Holmes’ anger and exasperation with the perennial mindless, destructive boorishness at Waitangi for bigotry. My point is that his anger and ruthless dissection of the protestors was justified and factual. And shared by many who are not bigoted or anti-Maori either.

  131. @Gerard, Warren, this article makes a point that resonated with me – the distinction between British empiricism and Euopean ideology:

    I know when I read Hume I was on his wavelength immediately and stunned at what he wrote four centuries ago – whereas I found Kant unreadable and completely unconvincing.

    Hence my interest in whether Holmes spoke the truth and lack of interest in whether he upset some people or respected the Treaty “principles”.

  132. 132

    @Alan, I know I’m repeating myself, but I actually agree with Holmes if that, as you say, was the actual intent of his article. But the tone can, and clearly did, make other interpretations possible. I won’t budge on my dislike of Holmes, it is laid on a foundation more than 20 years thick, and I find the fawning praise and platitudes lavished upon him quite sickening, as well as undeserved. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on Holmes in order not to argue about him forever.

    Kant I read, and agreed with many aspects. His rejection of faith-based reasoning was a brave move for his day. Hume I haven’t read, although he’s on my hit list. As stated, I undertook higher learning in the technical arena and it has been slightly later in life that I’ve embarked on a haphazard process of spare time self-education in the humanities. I’ve got to be sure of myself to go up against clearly seasoned debaters like you and Gerard, so you won’t see me contribute terribly often here, but I’m reading you all with pleasure, whether I agree with you or not.

  133. I’ve not said anything about Paul Holmes online because it his common knowledge in my neck of the woods that Paul Holmes is not long for this world. The heart issues prevent the cancer being treated. But this is something already out there, something I wrote a year ago after Holmes racist rant after Waitanig Day, and I still think it sums up my views:

    “…When Paul Holmes first came to prominence it was a quarter of a century ago. He was still a young(ish) man when he debuted on TVNZ. He was once an excellent journalist – or at least, a journalist who connected with a sufficient number of New Zealanders to become THE dominant player in the news space for a decade.

    But then the wheels started to fall off. He left his wife for a woman 22 years his junior. He wrote a fawning book about himself. He made a music CD. He abused his privileged media position by colluding in secret with the Business Round Table to run an anti-Labour smear campaign (“Generation Lost?”). He gave vent to his increasing egotism and self-importance by showing a rank lack of respect with a racist insult aimed at the United Nations Secretary General. He crashed his vintage aeroplane twice pretending he was capable of becoming a pilot. By 2004 his zenith was well over, but he clearly thought he was bigger than TVNZ, bigger than Ben-Hur. He walked.

    Since then, his career has been one of marked failure. Prime axed him after six months. His step daughter developed a high profile drug problem. Since the failure of his move to Prime his career has essentially been becalmed with a bias to decline.

    The point of this all is that Paul Holmes had clearly been unhinged by his success on TVNZ for probably the last twelve years at least. He sees/saw himself as an ubermenschen. His failure to push on, to be heard, to have his limitless talents appreciated, lies not in himself – that cannot be for such a superman – but in the failure of the mean and limited proles to grasp his genius. I would wager his views on Maori are not racist, insofar as he extends them to all members of the lower classes who he thinks are polluting his paradise and obstructing his expression of his will…”

    Now, my father was, in the prime of his life, be quite an unpleasant man in many ways. A hard working, violent, hard drinking man who wasn’t afraid of the biff he was every inch a man’s man and a product of his time. He died last October of lung cancer at the age of 73, the price of a pack of a day since he was twelve. When he knew he had untreatable cancer, when the fact of his death was upon him, it changed him. He became mellow, warm and loving. Reconciliations were made, bygones became bygones, and his last nine months were the best relationship I have ever had with him. Listening to Paul Hoilmes, hearing of his reconciliation with his daughter, I detect the same change in him as in my dad; the epiphany of the humility of mortality that hopefully we will all get a chance to experience when our end approaches. Good luck to him; My only hope is like my father he finds the courage in the changes wrought to the character of men by the knowledge of approaching death to face that death bravely, like a man should.

  134. “I would wager his views on Maori are not racist, insofar as he extends them to all members of the lower classes who he thinks are polluting his paradise and obstructing his expression of his will…”

    There is definitely someone unhinged here – but I don’t think it is Paul.

    @Warren, Paul’s article was written in immediate response to the events at Waitangi Day 2012 and have to be interpreted in that context. Thanks for the discussion. The Left usually abuse and run away so a good debate is quite rare.

  135. 135

    @Alan: I hope that your last sentence hasn’t dropped me behind enemy lines in Left territory. I’m not sure I’d make it out sane.

  136. JC: Comment deleted.

  137. @Warren, just an observation – not an assignment and you haven’t fitted that stereotype. Cheers and Happy New Year.

  138. @Gerard, as another possible solution, suppose teachers took a business team-problem-solving approach to their job?

    At the very first class of the year the teacher might sit down to say this:

    “Class, this year we are going to try something different. We are going to set ourselves the magic goal of having every student in this class score an A pass in the external exam at the end of the year. So if you get an A pass but someone else here in this room does not, we have failed.

    Now we know that if I teach you in the ordinary way that is an impossible goal. Some of you will get high marks and some will get low. That is because I can’t know what problems all of you have in succeeding. And even if I did know, I can’t be clever or wise enough to find the right solutions to all your different problems.

    So I need you all to help me. There are lots of ways to help us get to this goal. You can spot your own problems or someone else’s. You can research and find solutions to problems or you can help implement those solutions. You can scout ahead to find out what we need to learn to get those A passes. You can help check on how we are all progressing. All of you have a part to play that fits what you like doing and are good at.

    I don’t know what we are all going to learn this year because we are going to find that out as we go along. But I do know we will learn a lot about this subject, about ourselves and about each other. And about how to succeed in life.

    Now to start this off, I want you to take two sheets of paper. In the top half of the first I want you to write down the reasons you think this is a good goal and in the bottom half write down the reasons you think it is a bad goal.

    On the second sheet of paper in the top half I want you to write down the ways you think it can be successful and in the bottom half write down the things that might make it fail.

    When you have finished we will discuss and think about what you have written. Then we will make our first plans.”

  139. I see Edwards still calls himself a media advisor, a sickening plagiarism of himself still,

    BE: Judy took your comment down, because we don’t normally publish comments with no content other than gratuitous abuse. But I’d like to give you the opportunity to explain exactly what you mean.

  140. Alan, good to see you divided the page into two sheets, not the usual Left and Right! A serendipitous beginning perhaps?.

  141. 141

    Thank you Alan, same to you.

  142. @Kat, I hold no brief for the Right. I am not a conservative. I am a “classic liberal” advocating for social and economic freedom as I think you know. So I don’t divide the world in two and the Left is just one faction of many, numerous, misguided and unfortunately fanatical as it may be.

    For the purposes of thinking and team planning SWOT analysis is useful and I adapted it here.

  143. Kia ora Brian

    I was surprised to see that you applauded the award of a knighthood to Paul Holmes and I was then shocked to see you later state that, “But even if you put the worst interpretation on both the ‘cheekie darkie’ comment and his Waitangi Day remarks, these are two isolated incidents in a career of more than 40 years and they are at odds with everything else Paul has said and written” and that “Paul is not and never was a racist”.

    While I have no interest in the awarding of gongs etc I am baffled that you do not recognise that he was a poor interviewer and moderator of current affairs programmes and furthermore he is racist towards Māori in that he has a default negative concept of Māori and a default belief in “whitey” (his word) superiority.

    Let me give you some background before I set out my reasons for my opinion of Holmes. I was out of New Zealand for 30 years only returning 5 years ago. I decided to return about 7-8 years ago and having spent all my time overseas in the northern hemisphere I was not up to speed with what was happening in New Zealand. I started to read the NZ Herald online and virtually all the names in the news were unknown to me. I also started to listen online to Paul Holmes on the breakfast slot on NewstalkZB. His profile said he was an award winning broadcaster. I persevered listening to him for a few weeks and then decided my initial impression was correct. I thought he was a bumbling broadcaster who must have gone downhill dramatically from his award winning peak. I assumed that was why he was now hidden away doing a radio breakfast show.

    After being back in New Zealand for about 2 years I mentioned to a friend that while I loved being back, I was finding the coverage of news and political matters to be totally underwhelming. He suggested that I watch Q & A which I had not come across as it was buried away in an early Sunday morning time slot. I started to watch Q & A – longer interviews were being done by Guyon Espiner and other interviews by Paul Holmes who also “moderated” a panel discussion. I found Holmes to be poor at both interviewing and moderating the panel.

    As an interviewer he does not ask questions from all sides of the debate. Furthermore, he has a variable scattergun approach and nearly always makes clear his own personal view during the interview and then again by way of a parting comment when winding up the interview. I am used to interviewers asking knowledgeable questions from all sides of the debate (within the constraint of time available), such as Jeremy Paxman and Gavin Esler on Newsnight and Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 News to name just four.

    When Holmes moderates a panel discussion on Q & A he seems to think that he is not only the moderator guiding the discussion to wherever he wants but he is also a panellist putting forward his own personal views. And in terms of Māori those views are overwhelmingly negative.

    Holmes’ lack of these basic skills means he is incompetent as a current affairs interviewer and a current affairs moderator.

    About 18 months ago I was so frustrated by the poor interviewing techniques in terms of current affairs generally in NZ the thought suddenly popped into my head that when I was growing up that bloke Brian Edwards was an excellent interviewer. I wondered what happened to him. Through Google I discovered you were still alive and living in NZ and that you had this blog – which I now peruse from time to time.

    Brian I understand that Holmes may be a “good bloke” meeting him “in passing” but he is poor at current affairs programmes as he lacks the fundamental skills to be competent. Furthermore, he has had more than “2 isolated incidents” of racism. His insidious racism comes out regularly. Insidious racism towards Māori is found regularly in NZ media and is striking when one returns after 30 years. Over time you just accept it (wrong I know) and I know Māori living here just accept it as they have had it all their lives and inevitably as members of the target group most succumb to its debilitating nature.

    I will give you an example of Paul Holmes’ negative default setting for Māori. On the Q & A panel discussion following a Tim Groser interview ( at 3:35 Paul Holmes assumes that no Māori will be going abroad on export missions because that is a positive thought that does not occur to him with his default negative view of Māori. Fortunately Michael Barnett (from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce) was able to set Holmes right on that at 4:12. But usually when insidious statements like that are made no one blinks an eye and the comments are not corrected (let alone challenged for racism).

    My observation is that Holmes often asks a question like that with a racist undertone based on his personal perspective which clearly shows to me that he is racist towards Māori.

    Holmes’ Waitangi diatribe about Māori was shocking – whether he wrote it “in his cups” or not. Because he did not like the form of protest made at Waitangi he proceeded to bring out all his deep seated negative generalisations about Māori.

    Your acceptance of that is baffling to me. Would you accept me broadcasting deep seated negative generalisations about all “whitey” New Zealanders because of Holmes’ column?

    Then in an addendum a few days later you accepted his excuse that he was not talking about all Māori but just the protestors. So Holmes seemed to say either that in some way the protestors were responsible for all those things he was generalising about or the protestors themselves were committing all those things. So on that basis, if I was to publish negative generalisations about “whitey” New Zealanders and then later clarify that I was referring only to “whitey” Paul Holmes does that somehow make my denigration of all “whitey” New Zealanders acceptable?

    You seem not to want to accept the evidence before you and appear to contradict yourself. You said then, “If I’m right and the propositions put forward in Paul’s piece are essentially racist, then all one can conclude is that the expression or racist ideas finds widespread favour in New Zealand.” But then a paragraph later you write, “Do I think Paul is a racist? No. It doesn’t really fit the man I know, admittedly only passingly. But I think, as others have thought, that he failed to make the distinction between ‘Māori’ and the Waitangi protestors sufficiently clear in his column and the outcome was that the piece bore all the hallmarks of racist dog-whistling.”

    Furthermore, from his “clarification” it is clear that Holmes did not retreat from his racist position but actually felt emboldened by the support he received.

    I was overseas when the cheeky darkie comments were made in 2003 and didn’t take any notice of them. As I write this I have just now for the first time read the transcript of what he said which I understand includes, “That Kofi Annan, I’ve got to say to you, he’s been a very cheeky darkie overnight. He’s been a very cheeky darkie. It’s all very well giving a darkie that Secretary-General job, we’ll only take so much. We’ll only take so much.”

    Reading that I am amazed that he kept a job in television or radio and I am amazed that you Brian see it as an isolated incident which can be excused. He was not seeing the man who was the Secretary-General, but was seeing a “darkie” which superior “whitey” Holmes couldn’t countenance when Holmes disagreed with him. I see that he subsequently apologised but it is clear to me from what I have observed of him he has remained a racist.

    Compare the treatment of Holmes with that of UK football pundit and top manager Ron Atkinson (who brought to the world the expression “early doors”). In 2004, while covering a live match on TV, Ron Atkinson at half time thought he was speaking off air but his microphone was still switched on and he called Marcel Desailly (a wonderful player incidentally) a “lazy thick n*****”. He was sacked as a TV pundit the next day and immediately lost his job as a columnist in The Guardian.

    Also compare the treatment of Holmes with the treatment of Andy Gray and Richard Keys in 2011 who before a Premier League match broadcast by Sky UK made off air sexist comments when they discovered that one of the Assistant Referees running the line was a female. Although Andy Gray was the chief football analyst for Sky Sports (and had an audience far greater than Paul Holmes ever had) he was sacked immediately along with presenter Richard Keys.

    You described Holmes as being a “fine broadcaster”. On the contrary, my observation of Holmes is that he is an incompetent current affairs interviewer and panel moderator. You say “Paul is not and never was a racist”. On the contrary, my observation is that Holmes is racist towards Māori (and Kofi Annan). I expected you to at least point those things out Brian and I am disappointed that you did not and that in fact you appear to excuse his racism on the few occasions you recognise it.

  144. @jake, I just listened to the Grosser interview you linked and frankly your claim that Holmes made a racist assumption about Maori is utter crap.

    Furthermore, people who cannot tell when Holmes is talking about protesters and when he is referencing Maori statistics rather than generalising about all Maori either suffer from serious comprehension issues or are selectively hearing what they want to hear in order to attack the man rather than the issues he is raising.

    Zero credibility.

  145. I have a lot of time for Bomber. And when you listen to him you have to put it into context that he is an “angry young man” like most young men are you see the world as not being run as it ought.

    He doesn’t have the historical, personal or tv connection to Paul Holmes that we who are a generation older (or more) have so Bomber has only the recent history of what Paul Holmes is like and takes it at face value i.e. not in the context of many, many years of shared history and/or friendship.

    At face value the “cheekie darkie” comment and paper article are pretty bad. IMO the “cheekie darkie” comment was ironic and a throwback to his mother’s era that viewers would recognise and, with present day eyes, would see the absurdity of. I think the paper article was pretty bad and my suspicions are that he was badgered into writing it by political friends rather than it being his own opinion but, who knows, there are some pretty nasty opinions circulating in Hawkes Bay that he might have listened too.

    Anyway, I saw his pic in the paper and he looks more and more like his Mum.

  146. Nice column in the Herald today by Paul Thomas:

    @mpledger, I think Paul Holmes was far too intelligent and subtle for people with simplistic black and white opinions. I will miss him.

  147. On Radio New Zealand’s “The Panel” yesterday, Brian made the remarkable claim that Paul Holmes had had a magnificent, stellar career, and that his racist, profanity-laced verbal barrage against the U.N. Secretary-General in 2003 was just “one little slip”.

    I decided to remind Brian that Holmes’s behaviour on that infamous day was anything but “one little slip”, and was in fact part of a consistent stream of vicious race-baiting and inflammatory comments about international, ill-informed affairs by Holmes. I posted Brian the following e-mail….

    Paul Holmes made “one little slip”? You must be joking.

    Dear Brian,

    Paul Holmes did not make “one little slip” over his entire career, contrary to your protestations on The Panel this afternoon. He was found guilty of having grossly violated broadcasting standards when he instructed his viewers to “prepare to go ballistic” over a Maori land claim in Tauranga (Holmes, Monday 18 November 2002). Just last year, he angered many people by writing a foul anti-Maori tirade in the Herald. That was his contribution to Waitangi Day.

    And the “cheeky darky” rant was not a simple “slip”; he raved for at least two minutes, repeatedly using the crudest and most vicious language he could.

    In 2004, when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Holmes laughed sardonically at the prospect of Iraqi civilians being tortured: he chortled, “They won’t like THAT!” Last year he joined in the campaign against Julian Assange, and was quoted all over the world for his bloodthirsty opinion that “they will have to kill him”.

    “One little slip”? You are dreaming, surely.

    Yours in concern at shoddy standards of commentary,

    Morrissey Breen
    Northcote Point

    BE: Morissey originally sent this comment to me directly in an email. I replied asking him not to contact me personally in that way and suggested he send the comment to the website in the normal fashion. My reply to him was strongly worded and I undertook to publish that reply, if he turned his email into a comment, as I’d suggested. For reasons that may become clear very soon, that is not something I want to do at present.

  148. @Alan Wilkinson: Quoting Paul Thomas to bolster your argument is not a good idea. Thomas knows a bit about rugby football, and he has written some amusing thrillers. But as his woefully ill-iinformed comments about politics have revealed over the years, he knows little about politics or philosophy and has resolutely refused to do any serious reading.

  149. Brian, I think Morrissey has already published your reply, in the nz.general newsgroup, with a link to here.

    Anyway, enough of this unpleasantness. Although I was never a big fan of Sir Paul, there’s a time and place for everything. Morrissey has over stepped the boundaries of good taste here.

    In a previous post I said I’d not heard Sir Paul sing. I have now. It wasn’t as bad as I might have implied.

    Here is the silky voice of Sir Paul, for those who did not get around to purchasing his CD.

    (hopefully this link will work)

    BE: Thank you Dean. Greatly appreciated. I’ve now found the site and you’re right. He has published my email reply. This despite the fact that he will have known very well why I did not want it published yet: to avoid personal distress to other people. A despicable action on his part, though not perhaps surprising.