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When Hone met Rachel – now that was a surprise

I watched Rachel Smalley talk to Hone Harawira on The Nation Saturday morning. This was a quite extraordinary interview for two reasons:

First, Smalley is now without peer in New Zealand as a current-affairs and political interviewer, an accolade I would previously have given to the hugely talented Duncan Garner.

I would go further. Smalley is up there with some of the finest television interrogators in Australia (not difficult), the United States (quite difficult) and the UK (very difficult). She is enormously well-informed; her questioning is challenging without being interruptive, aggressive or rude; her delivery is impeccable; her interviews are models of intelligent debate. 

Because New Zealanders have grown used to noise and impertinence as hallmarks of the effective interviewer, when in fact these are indicators of lack of real talent, Smalley’s brilliance has perhaps not yet been fully recognised. But I have absolutely no doubt that, with a little more experience, she will rank alongside interviewers of the quality of HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur.

Second, Hone Harawira is in my view the most effective political communicator in New Zealand. His reputation among Pakeha and some Maori  is probably that of a loud-mouthed Maori sh*t-stirrer, a reputation he has from time to time deserved.

And the name Harawira has not helped.

His mother Titewhai, while liking to be seen arm in arm with white-skinned Prime Ministers at Waitangi, is to me the embodiment of anti-Pakeha sentiment in this country. And Titewhai is often in her son’s ear. This is how I expressed it in a previous post:

Many years ago I interviewed Hone’s mother, Titewhai Harawira. In the course of the interview I put it to her that she was consumed with hatred for the Pakeha. She vehemently denied it, but the language and tone of her replies merely served to reinforce the truth of my accusation.

Titewhai’s blood runs in Hone’s veins. But I sometimes think he is conflicted. There is, I divine, a decent and warm human being in there, a nice person. The cognitive dissonance of the voices in his head may go some way to explaining his Jekyll and Hyde vacillation between belligerence and appeasement.

I think that was pretty well right. Have a look at Hone’s interview with Smalley on The Nation.  What you will see is a quiet, considered, rational advocate for Maori. Chatting to him before the interview I encounter, as I have on previous occasions, an engaging, funny and, above all, warm personality.

In debate he displays not merely high intelligence, but a rare dialectical subtlety that he uses to effect. Hone is not easy to beat in an argument about race relations in Aotearoa. He has spent too long at the coalface, is too experienced, too sharp, too articulate, too driven by his concern for his people and his intolerance of injustice.

Yes, I know, that  seems over the top and it doesn’t seem to fit the man who could write:  “White motherf*ckers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries, and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullsh*t.”  But then, it’s pretty well right, isn’t it?. And maybe it makes my point that Hone is a Janus-like personality torn between conciliation and rage.

So Rachel (image: private girls’ school, Pakeha posh) and Hone (image: radical Maori sh*t-stirrer) were always going to be an interesting mix. But, if you haven’t already seen the interview, be prepared to be surprised. This is wonderful television, intelligent and mesmerising debate at a level all too rarely seen in this country.

Watch Rachel Smalley's interview with Hone Harawira here or read English lying over iwi support claims Harawira.

Media trainer and commentator Dr Brian Edwards blogs at Brian Edwards Media

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Comments and questions

Brian, just more of your extreme left wing properganda promoting your media industry (which in the main is socialistic).
You are wrong - many of NZ settlers did not rape and pillage - rather, they brought relative peace to warring tribes and the opportunity of prosperity for all, to an otherwise poor and undeveloped nation. They did this through bringing the land & sea into ecconomic production and through solid Law & Order. These in turn provided the cash & tax to bring education, health and all the other benefits of living in the "first world".
Please stop rewriting history through subtle twists and innuendoes.
The truth is that NZ is towards the very top of of the OECD through decades of extremely hard work and good honest governance. We are therefore able to be a nation that gives generously and helps the poor instead of having our hand out to the world for support, like most other pacific nations...

Are you retarded the British have raped an pillaged every colony they have ever setup. Its just lucky that the typical genocide plan was to expensive because of our location and the Maoris expertise in military tactics.

you're an fool :)

1. when you are going to tell someone they are wrong you should at least be referring to something they have said. he quoted HH. therefore "you are wrong" would mean that he misquoted HH or that HH wrote this article. Neither of which are obviously accurate.
2. It only takes one person to rape a second person for said second person to become raped. saying that some people are innocent does nothing to suggest that no-one was victimised.
3. truth is subjective, therefore it is impossible for you to tell us what the truth is. This is especially true when describing causality. ("decades of...")

I'm afraid that income equality in NZ left the building in the 1980s, when you weren't looking:

The Europeans may have brought the opportunity for prosperity, but unfortunately that did not (and still does not) translate in to actual prosperity for all.

The Maori were deriving resources plenty fine from the land and sea before Europeans came along.

Hone is cunning ,hes like a Bull Mastif ,dont trust him in any shape or form

Good analysis Brian - I agree with you about both Rachel and Hone.

You are so right JR - we were tradesmen, we were entreprenaurs in our own right, we were fishermen, we were accountants before the English brought mayhem to this country. So, get it right PT - "....brought relative peace...." Who the hell are you kidding? Colonisers came here to civilise the natives; they did that alrite and took everything off them.....from their language to their land - and you wonder why we are the way we are....get damn real!

Back in those days Maori ate Maori, that is a fact. I don't blame Maori for that, such things were simply what happened back then, they were different times, and the Maori of today shouldn't be lambasted for how their forbears acted. So why should all whites be made scapegoats for what happened so long ago? Many of us aren't even of English lineage and our forbears didn't even arrive in NZ until last century. None of my ancestors have ever owned land here or been in positions of power, so if you think I've ever benefited at the expense of Maori you're dreaming.

How was European colonization of NZ worse than the colonization of North America or Australia? As far as I can see NZ has the best supported indigenous people in the western world. It's not perfect but then no country is. NZ doesn't have as easy access to its minerals as Australia does because we are not a desert and we have the treaty. Our economic problems were started by Britain joining the EEC and the oil shocks of 73 & 78. I don't think the answers are so simple to find as people think they are. Sacrifices need to be made.

Some people live in the past, some live in the present and look to the future - never hard to figure who are who

Indeed, the ones who did bad in the past tend to be the ones who now say "let's look to the future" instead.

Did you all just read the same article as me? Brian set about discussing how an interview went, how Rachel Smalley is under appreciated as an interviewer and how Hone can surprise as both smart and warm. And so you just launch into the merits of European colonisation of NZ? Perhaps you'd care to stay on topic or at least have the common sense to build a bridge from Hone's "white m###f###" comment (which was not the subject of the piece and mentioned only in passing) to your hobby horse?

Have always been a fan of Rachel since first viewing her on TV3 news in the early hours. You are quite right Brian. She exhibits that rare blend of respectfulness mixed with humanity and a sense of humour in an environment that does not always favour these attributes, whilst still maintaining effective journalism. If only others could follow her lead then we might see a return to healthy debate within the media rather than some of the sensationalist hype often touted as investigative reporting seen of late.

Hmm, I just sat down and watched the interview and can't say I got anything out of it except Hone is a smooth talker which surely we already knew.

The only pertinent question from Smalley about "settlers' rights" was simply and completely dodged by Hone. I think I just wasted ten minutes.

Ask one simple question of any Maori and any politician and then, the interaction between the likes of Rachel and Hone will make some sense - NZ has a dedicated Maori TV and TVNZ still persists in Maori programs, spending precious dollars for what????

I saw "The Nation" interview and totally agree with Brian Edward's assessment of it.

Yes we commented what a great interview it was as well. Hone has the most consistent and clear message at the moment, I wonder if Matt McCarten has been doing some mahi behind the scenes with Hone. Hone's message is winning us over these days and I couldn't stand him a few years ago.

Would they both be clients of yours, Brian? :).

Agree that Rachel is awesome. Hone is still drumming his aggressive anti-European racist BS. Water rights... because a taniwha has been seen by some loonies? Give me a break! Maori should not have water rights. Period.

Harawira side stepped a lot of the questions put to him and also contradicted himself with his own lies and fiction. He is a passive-aggressive loser, whilst getting quite fat on his New Zealand taxpayer-funded salary.

Hone Harawira on Glen Innes -- "...and now everyone's talking about it." LOL this guy is so full of it; believes people give a toss about him and his issues. Delusions of grandeur... a legend in his own very large lunchbox.

He didn't even answer where "settler's rights begin", only indigenous rights. Can he not remember the entire question or is he simply a one eyed racist?

From that interview, Brian, I simply regard him as a fool, trying to recall as much of a script that he or others prepared for him, with not a lot of success. Your summation of the interview, other than Rachel being brilliant, is a little disturbing.

Warms the cockles of yer heart, to see that Brian is Hone's latest fanboy Can't beat 'em, join 'em. And hope that the arch witch and her daughter gives their blessing. Because it would kill me, to see Brian reduced to a blubbering mess, like his NY aunty.

It was a great interview if you like spongey pudd and treacle.

The above comment is disturbing. Hone articulates the views of enough people to b an mp. Period. Whats the basis to people like the above and farmer jacks views? Greed, fear and racism. Hone tells the truth about what happened in this country. So does the waitangi tribunal. Face it. Then either do something about it or shoot the messenger...

lightweight meets airhead

It's easy for a non-Maori to dislike Hone for some of the things he said, and, in general, I'm kind of opposed to parliament being used as a vehicle for single-issue politics, because it takes away the focus of NZ's place in the wide world.

That said, I came to the conclusion that non-Maori have to see Hone H in the context of what he stands for - he isn't trying to represent non-Maori. At least he doesn't purport to stand for Maori issues while feathering his own nest, and he is prepared to say what he thinks (albeit sometimes brutally) and couldn't be considered to be two-faced.

No Maori Party or Mana Party MP represents my interests in parliament. I've learned to accept that as part of MMP. But if I had to be locked in a room with any of them for a day, Hone would be my pick, simply because he struts his stuff and says what he thinks and, although I don't pretend to fully understand his core issues, I get the impression he doesn't forget about his supporters in between elections.

I'm disappointed - I thought this was going to b e about Rachel HUNTER.

The Boomers pushing their super-liberal media agenda once again... boring.

The way the article was written, I was expecting to be treated to roasted wild pork and spuds; not Spam and pureed mash potato. A real let-down.

In a rare moment, I found myself agreeing with everything (everything) Brian says in his lead comment. I agree with his assessment of Rachel and Hone and the interview was an example of how good investigative journalism should unravel on our screens. In particular I was interested in his observations of Hone's mother Titiwhai. In 1985 I had the privilege of meeting her when, as a young lawyer I was called to her Marae at Whakapara to set up a simple trust in order for her iwi to obtain the benefit of a bequest left to "the marae". The bequest had to go to a legal entity (which "the marae" wasn't but which my simple trust was). After explaining the terms of the trust we got down to signing up 15 members of the iwi. The only flat surface was the top of an upright piano. When it came to Titiwhai's turn she came forward and despite the trust being totally for her benefit and those of her people she turned to me and as she was about to touch pen to paper said to me (with those same eyes of absolute loathing for pakeha that Brian describes) "just like the Treaty of Waitangi, eh!". I have seen her since on TV and instantly cast back to that awkward occasion on her marae. I appreciate that activists are required to take an extreme position in order to advance their cause even half way but the sneering approach certainly has the capacity for total polarisation of the very people whose willing agreement is essential to long term change. Well done Brian on a thought provoking p