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DON BRASH: I ADMIRE CRAIG JEPSON



Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Craig Jepson, and I suspect that that is also true of most New Zealanders. He has suddenly become almost as well-known as Meng Foon, the Race Relations Commissioner. Both men are hugely admired by some; and viscerally disliked by others – though those who admire Meng Foon no doubt detest Craig Jepson and vice versa.


For those who haven’t been following the media lately, Craig Jepson is of course the recently-elected mayor of the Kaipara District. He had the effrontery to point out to a Maori member of his council that reciting a karakia, or any other kind of prayer, at the beginning of a council meeting was quite inappropriate, given that the council is a secular institution.


After what I presume was some discussion with other councillors, Mayor Jepson announced that councillors could take it in turn to say some introductory words prior to council meetings, but these introductory words would not be part of the formal proceedings.


This wasn’t good enough for some Maori who insisted that reciting a karakia at the commencement of council meetings was some kind of absolute right, presumably guaranteed by the Treaty of Waitangi. They turned up in numbers prior to the council meeting this week, and ten of them were allowed to speak in what councils call Public Forum. Speaker after speaker denounced the mayor, and accused him of arrogance and racism.


But the mayor was absolutely right, and I have long been mystified by the willingness of councils to tolerate the intrusion of Maori customs into formal council meetings.


I recently attended the first meeting of a district council following the recent local body elections. Male councillors were seated in the front row; female councillors in the row behind. The meeting began with a karakia and several rather lengthy speeches in the Maori language. No translation was provided. Very few, if any, of the councillors understood what was being said.


Yes, the Maori language is one of New Zealand’s official languages (with sign language being the other official language), but to speak in a language which none of your listeners understand is at least inconsiderate if not downright rude. It is certainly no way to encourage understanding, or the way to convey information.


If a Catholic councillor wanted to open a council meeting by reciting the Rosary, nobody would be surprised if the mayor advised the councillor that reciting the Rosary would be inappropriate given that the council is an entirely secular institution.


I hope lots of people send Mayor Jepson supportive messages because he may be treading a lonely path. He needs to know that lots of New Zealanders, including no doubt lots of Maori New Zealanders, support him. His email address is mayor@kaipara.govt.nz


5,703 views179 comments

179 commenti


The hub of your objections is “the willingness of councils to tolerate the intrusion of Maori customs into formal council meetings.”.

Strange that running meetings along the lines of British customs presents no problems, yet customs of Māori must be ignored. That doesn’t reflect equality.

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Julian Batchelor
Julian Batchelor
25 ago 2023
Risposta a

Steve, you clearly don't understand what the mayor did. He pointed out that there were x number of people in council, and each was to take it in turns to start the meeting. That's equality my friend. Why should Maori dominate? That's apartheid.

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I knew Craig as a customer 45 years ago. He was a nice young man. Now I hope he has the balls to weather the storm he is facing and do what he knows to be the correct thing. If not, bugger,

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
04 gen 2023
Risposta a

To even have the balls to refute this garbage and weather the backlash shows me he's prepared to make a stand. And good on him.

Happy new year

Aaron

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pafbacos
pafbacos
20 dic 2022

Karakia in Maori means prayer. The word for church in Maori, is a compound noun, whare karakia. It is a religious invocation which has no place in local government or national government. The early settlers did not establish a State Established Church as some colonists in Australia did, because they came from the UK where for centuries non - Anglicans were discriminated against. They did not want to repeat that injustice in a new country. Maoris lived in isolation in this country for 750 years; they should take advice from the European who for centuries rubbed shoulders with people of different religious beliefs.

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winder44
winder44
21 dic 2022
Risposta a

A brilliant summation.

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Bryan MacLean
Bryan MacLean
19 dic 2022

It's about time there was reality in NEW ZEALAND Council Chambers, this time wasting BS has gone on long enough. Hopefully the next government and the population majority will have learned some lessons and NEW ZEALAND can go on into the future and not "BACK TO THE FUTURE"!!!


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doug.longmire
doug.longmire
17 dic 2022

Thank you, Don for an excellent article, where you clearly and succinctly describe the appalling situation where the mayor is accused of being "racist" for simply adhering to the rules on the council. I agree with the many other comments on this topic here.

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