The picking at his cardigan buttons and the raised brow – a distraction from the school newsletter. Head swivelling with great reluctance to focus on the mini system; as if that alone would countermand. A murmuring into the Earl Grey ensues. A missed step in the shuffle of the morning routine. A loss to rugby, to politics and now to broadcasting.
Change is to be imposed – continuity lost – and the ever-present threat of a sisterhood hijacking unsettles the Sunday vibe. The paper flaps over and won’t straighten up. What’s the score in Chittagong?
Why didn’t she cut the agapanthus back last weekend like she said she would? 6 down and 9 across are a proper pair of bitches. And now the National Programme won’t have Chris Laidlaw on Sunday mornings. A
crisis for grey men in grey slip-ons everywhere.
How will the five and a half people that aren’t bored back into a deep sleep by Laidlaw’s ponderous banality every Sunday – where he evaporates every last drop of emotion and interest in every worthy issue – going to cope with a show that may have a pulse? That’s 5.5 more listeners for Concert FM – so a sizeable increase. Everyone else who listens to RNZ National, I suspect, will welcome Laidlaw’s departure as well overdue. Meanwhile the vast majority of the total radio audience will not know what National Radio is let alone who Chris Laidlaw is, or was. To many he is the auto-snooze setting for Sunday morning – an old fart and his old fart mates mumbling about old fart stuff at golf cart pace, it just blurs right back to sleeptime.
There has been speculation in the wider college as to who will take over the chair vacated by the outgoing don. The types of professors such as Sainsbury and McDonald have been mentioned in the same breath as visiting lecturers like McCarthy. Such are the conclave deliberations and musty ruminations at RNZ, they resemble the internal politics of a perpetually-resourced, but intellectually defunct department at a decrepit university rather than programming decisions at a radio station.
What this column will address is why that person will never be a Maori, but will certainly be of the European race, and quite possibly also born and raised in Europe also. Seeing as how there are only
Europeans and no Maori hosting on RNZ this assertion is well justified. It is about time questions were asked why a few words in Te Reo here and there is supposed to offset the fact Maori and non-white people and their voices are excluded from the state radio networks. It is time to ask the question: why is it that no matter how good a broadcaster a non-white person is they will never get a job, and certainly never an on-air position, at RNZ? Why is it that every person of colour is wasting their time applying for the Sunday position? Why is it that you can have any accent on Radio NZ as long as it’s a white one? Why is it they can have English, Irish, Scots, and American accents but not a Maori or a Pacific Islander, or an
African or an Asian? Why is it that colour is the most important thing for radio at the New Zealand state broadcaster?
RNZ hires Europeans only because they believe they broadcast to a European-only audience. This is a self-reinforcing policy which attracts whites, but drives away potential non-white audience and staff. This euro-centric, segregationist/racially-exclusive domination of a state institution is taken to be a ‘heritage’ characteristic by the European establishment and has never been challenged as to its right to exist as it sees itself: a Pakeha station for Pakeha.
The only Maori they let on are cast in the standard subject roles of victims, the aggreived, the uneducated, the vague and mystic peasant folk and last but not least their tame Maori pets with non-threatening messages – and most of the academics are no better on the odd occasion they are sought for comment. The native people are to be spoken about, by Europeans, and are to be spoken to, by Europeans, but the native people are never to have their own show, and never their own voice on the Crown’s RNZ network.
They only recently hired some Maori to work in-house on their Maori bulletin because they resented paying Willie Jackson for the contract. Prior to that the only brown people who were allowed to work at RNZ
were the cleaners. The SABC/SAUK at least ended Apartheid there 20 years ago, Radio Rhodesia (if there was such a thing) 30 years ago plus. So when will Radio New Zealand have to reform itself from the racist bastion of the white ruling class into an institution where anyone, of any colour, can sit behind the mic? 10 years, 20 years away? When do they plan to phase out the colour bar at RNZ? ever? I don’t think they want to or that they will, and therefore that means they don’t have a future.
Some state institutions aren’t going to be able to make Treaty compliance or the targets set to prove they are multi-racial and bi-cultural or up to the standards of a future administration and they will be designated for disestablishment rather than transition. RNZ by any metric applied to assess multi-racialism and biculturalism would fail in a most epic fashion, with in-built hostility perhaps and
entitlement indeed, exhibiting only the minimal expected professional tokenism (which is next to nothing). Such institutions are not worthy of carrying on into a republican or any other future.
Anyone who has ever listened to RNZ knows they are hearing the past. It was when I used to listen to the Goon Show at two in the afternoon on Sundays (was it?) back in the 1980s and it is today, still the
past. They may as well go back to the YA call signs and referring to everyone as Mr, Mrs or Miss to better complete the scene. Between Jack Perkins’ ramblings and Wayne Mowat’s scratchy 78’s it is never
clear what decade it is. There doesn’t seem to be any difference between the style or the personnel 20, 30, 40 years ago and today except the pontificating prats and blythe bunnies now include the likes of bFM wankers instead of just drawing from Salient wankers as had previously been the case.
Government radio policy is to shell out very little to local Iwi groups and let Waatea function as a network rather than use public funds to erect anything like what the Maori Television Service is to
TV. It begs questions.
If we can have it acknowledged that TVNZ is a Pakeha network for the English language and Pakeha culture by way of Maori TV coming into existence, then why not apply that to radio?
RNZ scrapes along on its zero budget year after year and so avoids the scrutiny: who are you? who are you broadcasting to? and why? At the moment the definitive answers to those questions, in order, are: the
elderly white Wellingtonians and their twee, wanker offspring (with their perculiar NZ Company version of the colonialist view), like-minded white people, and because they are funded by the NZ government.
Who will replace Chris Laidlaw? It doesn’t really matter does it. It doesn’t matter to the management and board of RNZ as long as they have white-coloured skin or could pass as a white person in a voice check. No-one else is eligible. But it’s not racism, because there’s no racism in NZ, like how there’s no rapists in the police and like how there’s no corruption in politics – it just doesn’t happen in NZ.
You’d never hear about it.