Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Michael King's Last Interview - Transcript

Long live the King


The following is a transcript of the last interview Michael King gave before his untimely passing. It aired March 25, 2004 on 95bFM. Interviewer is Simon Pound, transcriber Matt Nippert.
From: http://fightingtalk.blogspot.com

SP: It must have been a hard time of late with Janet Frame’s death, but perhaps there’s some consolation your biography helped cement her place in the New Zealand imagination.

MK: Well I’d like to think it had that effect. At least it means Janet got the degree of recognition and appreciation that she deserved before she died. Because if Janet had died 30 or 40 years ago she’d always be known as that crazy old woman who was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and wrote some funny books. It’s really only been in the last 10 years that her reputation has consolidated and been fully recognized in New Zealand.

SP: And it must have been quite a wonderful occasion to receive the Prime Minister’s Award for services to the arts in her company.

MK: In her company, and in the company of Hone Tuwhare, it was marvelous. They were the other two winners, and they were two writers who are a generation ahead of me, and who I absolutely revere and respect. It was wonderful, yes.

SP: You’ve said that the reason you write books for a general audience, rather than academics, is that you feel people need to hear the stories and you need to get the widest access possible.

MK: Yes, I still think that’s a scholarly function, because my books, I hope, are written in a scholarly way. The point I’ve always made is that I’m writing for a general audience, rather than just for an audience of academics or fellow historians.

SP: The best thing history can provide I guess is a sense of context for New Zealand readers.

MK: I hope so, and indeed in current affairs or history, like the seabed and foreshore debate, only make sense in the context of history, so you need that background.

SP: That’s one other things that you’ve been known for over the years, taking a sociological viewpoint and examining what it means to be Pakeha in New Zealand. What do you think, now, today, what it means to be a New Zealander in general, and a Pakeha specifically?

MK: A huge change has taken place in my lifetime. When I was a child in the 1940s and early 1950s, my parents and grandparents spoke of Britain as home, and New Zealand had this strong sense of identity and coherence as being part of the commonwealth and a the identity of its people as being British. That of course has changed. I doubt if you’d find anybody now who would see the New Zealand identity in that way. So what’s happened is that since that time we’ve become conscious of the fact we’ve got two major cultural streams. The Maori or indigenous one, and the other one that I chose to call Pakeha, and I’ve got no problem with that particular name. I’m astonished that some people do.

SP: By that you mean all other immigrants, not just a purely white term?

MK: No, no, no. Pakeha can have two meanings in its Maori usage. It can refer to people who came in origin from Europe, but it’s also used in the sense of Maori and non-Maori. So that anything in New Zealand that is not specifically Maori would, in the Maori language, be identified as Pakeha. So I would use that word now for mainstream New Zealand culture. And I would regard it, as I’ve said in other forums and at other times, I don’t regard it anymore as an imported culture or tauiwi, foreign, culture. I regard Pakeha culture now as a second indigenous culture. Although it has its origins in Europe, it’s vastly changed in the 150 years or so that Pakeha have been in New Zealand. It’s changed in interaction with Maori culture and in interaction with the land. Most New Zealand Pakeha people now when they go back to their countries of origin, they may feel some sense of affinity there – but they don’t think that it’s home.

SP: In saying that, identity is still emerging, it’s still coming together. It’s a very positive tone, your book, it seems to be saying ‘look there are troubles, but we’re all in this together and we’re not doing that bad a job.’ Do you think the divisiveness stirred up by the Orewa speech, we do need to appreciate the fact we’re all together in this?

MK: Yes, of course we do. I also think you can’t measure the seriousness of the problem by the intensity of the rhetoric. It’s less than a decade ago when there was a huge argument going on over the National Government’s fiscal envelope proposal, when they were saying they would restrict Waitangi Treaty settlements to a total of a billion dollars. That caused an uproar at hui up and down the country, it caused Sir Charles Bennett to say that he would advise Maori not to fight for New Zealand again. And yes, it was one of those issues that was talked through and eventually laid to rest as I’m sure this one will be. I see the great continuities in New Zealand history as being decency and common sense and up until now when we’ve confronted these things we’ve been able to talk them through, and I’m sure we will with this issue as well.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news