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October 9, 2006 | by  | in Features |
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Know Your Enemy

It’s been a big year for Wayne Mapp in SALIENT. He’s been Called upon to be a talking head in two features, and the subject of several news strories and abusive letters to the editor over his attempted introduction of the infamous 90 day bill. We thought it was time to talk to the man directly. He speaks with SALIENT Volunteer Andrew Feltoe.

Way back in ‘99 the Dom described Dr. Wayne Mapp as the most boring MP in parliament. I want to talk about my pal Wayne, but since Donald and Helen are acting like monkeys throwing faeces, I think it’s important that I firstly mention rage….

…against the machine. Zack’s rhymes and Morello’s guitar — you with me? It’s a potent combination. Morello graduated from Harvard with honours in political science. And what did he do with it?

I told a mate I’d be chatting to Wayne, and he let rip a stream of profanity. Captured in an email conversation: “I don’t hate him. In fact, I want to have his babies so we can have more North Shore right wing ignorant bastards running around.”

Formed a rap-core band of course. Aside from a legendary Mexico City gig, they once came on stage starkers and stood there, gaffer tape across their mouths to protest against censorship. They stood there for a quarter hour, just taking it. Also taking it right now seems to be my buddy Wayne. Wayne graduated from Auckland with a law degree, and he did exactly what anyone in his footsteps would do. Practiced law, joined the army, became an academic, then moved into politics. It’s a slippery slope, lecturers be warned. I told a mate I’d be chatting to Wayne, and he let rip a stream of profanity. Captured in an email conversation: “I don’t hate him. In fact, I want to have his babies so we can have more North Shore right wing ignorant bastards running around.”

Not a fan, I guess. He’s probably angry because Wayne’s the guy who came up with the idea of allowing bosses to fire their workers at whim within the first 90 days of employment. So when Wayne pitched this idea to the union, he probably wouldn’t have been surprised at having to scream over a chorus of workers yelling “Bullshit! Bullshit!” Not really connecting with the common folk, is he?

But in some alluring way he did connect with me. Not about this 90 day bill, which is about as much use as introducing Russian roulette to primary schools. No, what got me was his title of ‘Political Correctness Buster’, especially in NZ politics, oh, and especially right now with our favourite party leaders trading blows below the belt. A fine lot to look up to.

I’m sure everyone who actually pays attention to politics feels a little dirty sometimes. It’s like Big Brother except we get to vote people in, not out. And like Big Brother we get to watch as the contestants spend our money, get trashed in party junkets, urinate in corridors, punch each other (although this is admittedly satisfying at the time), bitch and moan about how the country always seems to be going down the gurgler, and probably the least significant thing, what was that? Oh, yeah, pass legislation that affects our lives. A regular circus, bring on the clowns.

So what is Mr PC-buster fighting against? “Well essentially rolling back the intrusiveness of the state into people’s lives, rolling back petty regulation.” Woah there Nelly, I actually agree with him. But this coming from National? And from Wayne?

We start chatting and get to the heart of the matter. He cites the need for balance between regulation and freedom, and talks a fair bit about the nanny state. We both believe the government is doing a good job at wrapping New Zealanders in cotton wool, drowning us in needless laws.

I ask how the battle’s going, and he’s upbeat: “The bureaucracy, who are really the arch-PC generators are pulling back.” His campaign got off to a rocky start, being called everything from ‘antimaori’,and ‘anti-gay’ to ‘anti-women’, but he reckons the initial bad publicity’s faded. “I’ve spent a lot of time making it clear it’s really about [the] nanny state, bureaucratic overkill, and civil rights.”

In the case between himself and Qantas, he made sure it got media attention. Good for his anti-PC tag, good for media out for blood, not so good for the airline. Livid that they were banning male passengers from sitting next to unaccompanied children, Dr Mapp took the case to the human rights commission, however, undoubtedly it was the international publicity that ensued that brought down Qantas’ policy.

And some of the heat in his battle is about the Treaty. It’s rocky ground because it’s still contentious for many New Zealanders. Dr Mapp believes the Treaty is being misused by the government, thrown ad hoc into the fray, turning it from a valuable document into a gap-filler.

Too strong? Well, UNITEC made it a prerequisite that that their bus drivers “demonstrate understanding of and commitment to Te Tiriti O Waitangi.” I guess if nothing else this would make it handy if I were ever on campus andneeded to ask my bus driver about the finer points of the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Bill. What it doesn’t help is giving an unemployed driver a job. Look at it from their side and it just becomes yet another hurdle someone needs to jump through. Should organizations force that kind of commitment on people?

Wayne gives the example of the ad for the job of Auditor General, which required that the applicant have sound knowledge of the principles of the Treaty. He disagrees. “I would actually much sooner have [the Auditor General] understand knowledge of whether departments are spending their money wisely, which is actually the real role.”

He doesn’t quite hang himself to dry, making it clear that where a job actually required a knowledge of the Treaty, that it be made a part of the prerequisites. “These kind of things just get loaded into things in a thoughtless, heedless way. Conversely if you were seeking the job of Maori language commissioner and you didn’t know the principles of the treaty of Waitangi, you should probably be kicked in the butt.”

Wayne may be on the back foot with this one. The office of the Auditor General disagrees, stating that they “consider there are strong moral – and possibly constitutional – grounds for us to recognise the principles of the Treaty in all our activities.” I see Wayne’s point, but New Zealanders also need to know how much of their life requires a knowledge, however small, of one of the core documents of this nation. It’s a fight that, should he pick it up, will promise a few fireworks.

We may disagree about politics (and for that matter music, art, literature, and definitely, definitely style), but I’m still glad that he’s doing his anti-PC thing. It’s clear that Wayne is not like Tom Morello from Rage. I don’t reckon he’d do well on stage in the nude, although he’s welcome to give it a go. He doesn’t lay down heavy riffs on his axe, or belt out lyrics like Zack. Wayne is 54, white, middle-class and, like the Dominion says, boring.

But so are most New Zealanders, so I won’t hold it against him. He and I may not hit it off over a couple of beers, but we did manage to strike up a helluva conversation. At least he didn’t call me corrosive and cancerous, or question my partner’s sexuality. No, I’ll leave that up to Auntie Helen and Uncle Don. Let everyone else just carry on with their lives. Wayne, you go groove that white-ass to whatever tune you play, and go stick it to the man, Mapp-style.

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