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Don’t Smack The Messenger! - Hone Harawira

Don’t Smack The Messenger!

Last week I rang a mate of mine and asked him “Howzit? What you up to?”

“I’m smackin’ my mokopuna,” he replied. His moko said “what’s that for papa?” and my mate said to him, “well, your stupid bloody uncles are going to make this illegal next week, so I’m going to give it to you now!” and then the two of us roared with laughter over the phone. He wasn’t smackin’ his moko, but his message was pretty clear.

Sue Bradford has put forward a bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act so that you can no longer use it as a defence for smacking a child. Those against the bill will likely think the above story is a little sick. The funny thing is that those who support the bill will probably think the same too.

Folks, this bill is no joke, but life often is, and we can sometimes get so intensely caught up on one side of an argument or the other that we lose our sense of balance, and with it our sense of humour. I know. I’ve been there. But when I hear a good story, I like to share it and I hope you can see the humour in it for what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

This week Sue Bradford’s bill may come before the House as a matter of urgency. If it does, that means it’ll go up on Wednesday afternoon and all other business will be suspended until it is voted on. That means we may go back into the House on Thursday morning at 9am and continue possibly until midnight and we may even come back on Friday to complete the debate and take a vote.

Last week I thought the Bill might take a while before it came up for the vote, and that the Maori Party was hoping to take the issue on tour to get a handle on how people felt about it. If the bill is tabled as a matter of urgency, that won’t happen which will be a pity.

Some of the korero I’ve heard has been nasty, but most of it’s been well thought out. The arguments have been strong, but clear and they have really helped me with the position that I have taken. For all the debate, a world without violence is worth striving for, and while Sue Bradford’s bill may not be perfect, it does challenge us all to raise our sights beyond the immediate circumstances of our own lives.


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