Make January 24th a debate to remember
by John Ansell
Dame Claudia's Te Papa Treaty ‘Debate’, 2012.
On Thursday, let’s give her the debate she’s been missing!
For some time now, Dame Claudia Orange, that most inventive in-house historian of the bicultural bastion Te Papa, has been staging what she amusingly promotes as ’Debates’ about the Treaty.
Now call me old-fashioned, but in my dictionary a debate is defined as a two-sided affair.
I’m not sure what dictionary Dame Claudia uses.
But in that curious volume, a debate seems to mean:
“Several members of the affirmative, no members of the negative — and no noise from the audience please!”
I took the above photo at last February's ‘debate’. I forget who the guy on the left was.
The others were:
Dame Claudia, Nin Tomas of Auckland Uni (crypto-communist advocate of the Bolivian constitution), Muriwhenua advocate Claudia Geiringer, and Dr John Burrowes, the Great White Hope of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, who seems to be proving pretty hopeless.
Anyway, 'tis the season for two more of these very agreeable ’Debates’. (Debates, that is, where all the debaters are always able to agree. On everything.)
The first two to agree, as you can see below, will be constitutional lawyer Moana Jackson and Matthew Palmer, son of the inventor of the 'principles' of the Treaty. (Or, as we really ought to call it, the Treaty of Wellington.)
What place would you find for the Treaty?
Make your voice count!
Now I hate to spoil a good love-in. But I think it’s time these Te Papa Treaty 'Debates' were more like, well… debates. (As defined by my dictionary, not Claudia's.)
And so, honest Wellingtonians, I suggest we form ourselves into the Negative team that's been missing in action all these years.
My dictionary doesn’t stipulate a maximum number of members, but somewhere between 50 and 100 would be ideal. Bring all your like-minded friends.
After all, Te Papa, we are told is ”Our Place”. And “My Voice” — so the Constitutional Advisory Panel and Dame Claudia tell us — “Counts”. (As, it stands to reason, does Yours.)
What fair-minded public representatives we have!
And now they’re inviting us to a debate — about ”Finding a Place for the Treaty”.
Inexplicably, they don’t say why we should necessarily find a place for the Treaty at all.
But, as it happens, I have one in mind — certainly for the piece of paper that Dame Claudia refers to as the “official” Treaty.
(As opposed to Hobson's final English draft, found in 1989, which the great dame strangely refuses to even mention in her updated and supposedly definitive tome The Treaty of Waitangi.)
So. If you have a place you'd like to put the Treaty, come and join me at “Our Place” next Thursday evening, January 24th at 6.30pm.
I'll be the one handing out Treatygate information sheets, and possibly waving a placard or two.
You too can review the Review.
Make your voice count!
If you enjoy next Thursday's ’Debate’, you may want to come along to this next one a week later on January 31st.
As you know, the Constitutional Advisory Panel is very keen to hear your views on the place of the Treaty.
Let’s make sure they do.