Thursday 3 September 2009


Here is a translation of one of the key letters that so irked Laws. And like all translations it loses a bit in the process.

Evidently he is now offering to meet with the letter writers and have a cup of tea and a chat.

We hope he has a good long lie down before he does.

This is Ngrui writing to you.

I go to Otaki School and I am in the Te Korowai Whakamana whanau (class).

I am writing to you about changing the spelling of Wanganui to Whanganui.

I am really angry with you because there is no reason not to make the change. The only reason you have

against the change is the cost. Money!

In my view, the change should be made. If that's what the people of Whanganui want - change it! Its

their land, they are the people of the land. The Treaty of Waitangi states that all taonga in Aotearoa must

be protected

There is authority and meaning in the name Whanganui. Whanga - means harbour and nui means big.

Thus, 'big harbour'. What is the meaning of 'wanga'?

So, the challenge has been made - respond!


Anonymous said...

Reads to me like this impressionable ("angry") young person was quite unfortunately channeling his meddling teacher. I don't think Laws's response was as temperate as it should have been, but his point had merit, especially the suggestion that this activist school teacher be sacked.

PM of NZ said...

The tone of this very angry letter from a 10-11 year old confirms the lack of respect for authority instilled in youngsters toady.

IMHO Mr Laws is correct in asking the irate sender to calm down.

One does indeed what values are being instilled at schools today.

Cactus Kate said...


I thought it looked like a creative writing class where the teacher presents a letter and the children have to write it in their own style in many different ways.

Laws at least had the cultural sensitivity to get it translated and took the time to read what it says in English.

Personally I, and many other New Zealanders would have thrown it in the bin with all the letters one receives in Chinese, Japanese and Bulgarian.

KG said...

From the letter:
"In my view, the change should be made. If that's what the people of Whanganui want - change it!"

it's my understanding that people of Wanganui already voted on the issue, and they voted aginst changing it.
What the letter writer (or the writer's teacher, more likely) means by that is 'what the Maori people of Wanganui want.
Also, knowing how few people understand the language, how bright was it to send the letter in that language?
I'm with Laws--and his response was a damn sight more polite than mine would have been.

gravedodger said...

On this occasion BB I must take the other side. What the name of the city is, must be something for the residents to decide and IMO that has been well established beyond doubt. I would be more impressed if the children of Otaki would protest the activities of some of the ethnic gangs of the city and the terrible crime and social stats that are the reality, or other national matters and not involve themselves in what appears to be a local political matter. I concur with the theory that this may be a beatup led by people outside the class but I accept that there is a much more mature attitude to such issues among our young people today. I think Mr Laws could have been more circumspect in his response.

Anonymous said...

My score after watching the poor excuse for news that is Close Up:
Meddling Maori teacher (who didn't appear on screen) and ignorant 10 -11 year olds - 0
Michael Laws (who I don't normally like) - 1
Keep em coming. Laws loves the publicity and it plays to his audience.


Anonymous said...

yup, typical teacher led beat up.

Otaki is a scruffy little hole of a town, with far too much gang violence of its own. Perhaps the little dears could look a bit closer to home for an issue to be "angry" about.

Perhaps its time for an audit of this school by the Ministry of Education, wonder how their actual education is going?

Anonymous said...

Most amazing was how Laws chewed up and spat out Sainsbury 2 or 3 times during the piece and Sainsbury did not have the decency to look even remotely embarrassed by his own inept performance.
The pre-written script was followed to the letter as if the questions had been pre-recorded and were edited in regardless of the response.
The other sad part was the tone of the letters and the obvious expectation that the Mayor of Wanganui had nothing else to do but sit around answering his mail and offering political discourse to anyone who cares to put Bic to paper.
Bad journalism all round.

Craig Ranapia said...

Remind me: Who was supposed to be the grown-up in this little exchange?

Anonymous said...

Craig, The teacher was supposed to be the grown up...

Steve said...

"Craig, The teacher was supposed to be the grown up..."

Heh. Yeah, get it Craig. Laws was NOT expected to act grown up.