We are approachig that time of year again when Knighthoods, Damehoods, and Queens Honours are handed out.
Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger refused one,Helen Clark tried to get rid of them John Key brought them back in again.
While I think it is important to acknowledge people for their contribution to our communities and our country, I do think it’s time we had the discussion again about what Knighthoods and Damehoods signify.
Do we still want to cling to these vestiges of the British Empire or is it time to replace them with our own honours that reflect our now diverse multi-cultural country ?
Your answer to that question, I suspect ,reflects what you think it means to be a New Zealander.
A few days ago I was talking with Liz Gunn on her Drive show on Radio Live when I found myself remembering out loud that one of the things that once marked our National character is that we were an egalitarian country – that we believed “Jack was as good as his master” and that we called no man “Sir”
It’s a charactistic, I regret to say, that is in grave risk of disappearing from the New Zeland psyche.
I think that one of the side effects of neoliberal economics and the politics of selfishness is that it has created a false sense of entitlement in many of those who have benefited hugely by the reduction of tax rates and allows those with capital to get richer each year simply by sitting on their assets.
“I’ve worked hard for my money” they often argue “I should be entitled to keep as much of it as possible and not to be forced to donate a large amount of my earnings to making my community better by taxing my wealth to pay for schools and hospitals and the like.”
But have THEY really worked hard? Or did the deregulation of the banks and finance industries in 1987 simply give them the wiggle room they needed to allow their money to make money?
Don’t get me wrong I would never want to replace the politics of selfishness with the politicis of envy,but I do think a person’s value in any community is measured by the respect and affection with which they are held by their family ,friends, neighbours, workmates and collegues- not by the size of their car or their wallet
So with that last thought for 2018 I wish you all the best for the coming year.
May it treat you, your whanau and your friends better than the last – and let’s keep working towards a fairer more egalitarian New Zealand .
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.