Feedback: July 9, 2016

by The Listener / 07 July, 2016
Brexit fallout; dealing with child abuse; freedom of speech and cyberbullying.
Cartoon/Steve Bolton
Cartoon/Steve Bolton


The word “Brexit” said it all – a thinly disguised bias to quit the European Union; an opportunity for a disgruntled populace who were against the influx of immigrants and refugees to express contempt for the EU, which, to be fair, needs fixing. If the creatives had used the slogan “EUnity”, it would have ensured a totally different result.

Brits are often like sheep: downtrodden, dull, staid, lethargic, complacent, apathetic, predictable and, yes, boring. It is expressed in their cuisine, their class system, their attitude towards sex and, since 1985, their music. I can say this as I am British. Dare anyone else say it and I will defend Britain to the end.

That was the mentality I escaped in 1957, my family choosing to leave a country that had been pummelled by the Nazis. It had rationing, was smog-ridden and had an inferiority complex that made it unambitious and isolationist. We headed south, one boat behind fellow Mancunians the Bee Gees, and made Auckland our home.

New Zealanders welcomed us. There was no prejudice. Kiwis kept apologising for it being so slow. It wasn’t, in fact: every weekend Olympian Peter Snell would run past our home in the Waitakere Ranges.

I had 35 glorious Kiwi summers, have travelled to more than 70 countries and have lived in 10. I have come to realise we are all humans first, and unity is strength. No walls, only bridges. I despair for Britain’s future, but hope that Brexit will spur thousands of them to exit and discover there is more to life than warm beer and Yorkshire pud.

Peter Grattan
TVNZ former head of entertainment
(Vienna, Virginia, US)

Letter of the week

In the second half of last century, most of Britain’s colonies set about breaking loose from bondage. In so doing, most of them chose independence over financial stability.

The vote to exit the EU could be seen as a continuation of the decolonisation trend, with Britain, the one-time coloniser, breaking free from the modern day colonial tyranny of the EU. It will be interesting to see if Britain’s choice follows the many examples of independence over financial stability.

Rory Redmayne
(Hoon Hay, Christchurch)

The xenophobic Brits vote to leave the EU and now will probably end up with a Prime Minister with a Russian name.

Chris Brady

There is one explanation for the Brexit vote that seems to have escaped commentators. Some 25 years ago the UK was in a state of panic over mad cow disease, with predictions that there would be a human epidemic of the disease in the future. Perhaps the result of the referendum is the first indication that the prophecy is coming true. Is it not telling that it was voters too young to be exposed to diseased beef who most strongly supported Remain? And of course, Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the Remain campaign, is rumoured to prefer pork to beef.

Brian Nicholson


The outrage that the country feels at instances of child death by abuse should be aimed squarely at the Government, which fails to make child poverty and its associated issues a policy priority.

TV1’s Why Am I? series showing the evidence of the Dunedin long-term population study should have been compulsory viewing for all MPs. The research shows that we allow criminality to develop if we don’t intervene at the earliest sign of antisocial behaviour or family dysfunction, which in many cases is evident at antenatal classes, the GP’s surgery or preschool. By the time these children and families are at primary school, it’s often too late.

The genes that predispose people to antisocial or violent behaviour are widespread and switched on in neglectful or abusive environments.

Although it would not be feasible to gene-test every baby, surely we could ensure that every child born has the best environment possible. This requires generosity of spirit and generosity of funding for all agencies that support families.

Margaret Evelyn


It seems perverse to be concerned about crimping the freedom of expression of those who by their ad hominen bullying deny or seek to deny others the freedom to speak (Editorial, July 2). Perhaps it is time to honour those who struggled to gain our freedom to speak critically of society and those who are, or who should be, responsible for ensuring that all members can participate and contribute.

Raymond Nairn
(Mt Eden, Auckland)


I read with alarm about the green-lighting of the Ihumatao subdivision near Auckland airport (“A very special area”, June 4), adjoining Otuataua Stonefields Reserve. I’ve visited the reserve and you don’t need to belong to the local iwi, or be an archaeologist, historian or geologist, to feel this land speaking to you. The layering of the past is vividly apparent.

It seems inevitable that Auckland’s tide of development will surge out as well as soaring up. However, as the headline said, this place is very special.

Its obscurity, it seems, is both a blessing and a curse. I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t been to Otuataua to make the trip. Its barren beauty should remain undefaced, waahi tapu, by the tide of suburbia.

Sarah Matthewson
(Parnell, Auckland)


Pauline Harris says the first step in the revival of Maori star lore is to “go outside and actually look up at the sky” (Science, July 2). Had anyone at the Listener done so, they would have seen that the photo of Matariki that accompanied Harris’ words was printed upside down, as the image linked to here shows:­NZLMatariki. Matariki is the bright cluster of stars at the left edge of the picture.

It’s quite important to get the picture right as not all iwi see the cluster as “little eyes”, which is what matariki translates to. Some see it as a waka, and an upside down waka isn’t a good look.

Tony Cooper
(Mt Albert, Auckland)

Our apologies. The photo used showed Matariki viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. – Ed


I’m disappointed at Bill Ralston’s racist tirade against Americans (Life, June 25). In 1942, New Zealand stood alone and undefended against the might of imperial Japan and the only people who came to help us were the US marines. I’ll bet he would have been glad then to see, to use his words, some “gun-toting Americans”.

Simon Nottingham


Correspondent Jono Poff (Letters, July 2) seems to have a limited grasp of how important the aquatic environment is to all life. It doesn’t matter if a species is introduced, native or endemic, if its environment is degraded, abused or sprayed over a field – with such treatment, none can survive. Cawthron Institute research shows that if there isn’t sufficient flow in a river, food can’t be carried to feeding fish, whether galaxiids or trout.

In Poff’s Canterbury region, Fish & Game staff regularly save native fish – galaxiids, torrentfish and eels – from degraded rivers. I invite him and any others of like mind to put their money where their mouths are and do something practical to ensure our freshwaters are safe to swim in, drink and gather food from.

Bryce Johnson
Chief executive, Fish & Game


Ralph Norris states that government handouts have “created a situation where people aren’t prepared to get off their backsides and fend for themselves”. This is just after he has told us he was brought up in a state house.

Robyn MacLeod
(St Heliers, Auckland)


Sally Blundell introduces us to “precariat” (“Work in progress”, June 25), an addition to the language – and economic condition – worth careful consideration. The best defence against the state it describes is a good education with wide peripheral studies and work experience. As I’m retired, I’m relaxed about this.

Jack Murrell


The photo of CK Stead that opened the Books & Culture section of the June 25 issue of the Listener should have been credited to Marti Friedlander. The omission is regretted.

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