A reader has just sent me an extraordinary email from Te Papaganda about tonight’s debate.
In fact, about the very meaning of the word ‘debates’, which Dame Claudia Orange will tonight unilaterally update.
But first, the question which prompted it:
I presume that this debate will be just that, with speakers preselected, usually two on each side, to present both sides of an issue, with the audience allowed to comment at the end, and then some fairly adjudicated decision by an independent person, as to “who won”.
Could you tell me who are the chosen ‘presenters’ in the debate, and the judges.
The young people who are particularly invited to this debate will be well aware of the rules of debate – don’t disappoint them!
And this is how the chief Te Papagandist responded:
I have been advised by Dr Orange that tonight she will explain the term “Debates” which can be used in various forums and can be organised in various ways.
At Te Papa it is to convey – to the public – information on which they can develop their own opinions and carry on debates with friends and family in a positive and informed manner.
Please note that there will be four young people participating in the debate and that they do not always agree.
Museum Of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
It looks as thought tonight’s debate is going to be a more momentous occasion than I had realised.
Come along at 6.30pm and watch New Zealand’s foremost historian make lexicographical history.
Her freeing of the word ‘Debates’ from the constraints of precision will be a great relief to many language users, I’m sure.
Of course, many words in the Treaty of Waitangi have already undergone this process — words like taonga, which at the time of the Treaty was defined as ‘property procured by the spear’ but now means ‘anything we take a shine to’.
And the words all the people of New Zealand, found both in Hobson’s final draft (the Littlewood document) and in Hobson’s official (ie Maori) Tiriti, which now mean all the Maori people.
And how reassuring that the four young ‘debaters’ — hand-picked no doubt by Dame Claudia for their politically approved views — do not always agree.
On the details, perhaps. But not, I confidently predict, on the main thrust of the Te Papa/Constitutional Advisory Panel Maorification agenda.
But go on, you young Claudiophiles, prove me wrong!