Feedback: July 23, 2016

by The Listener / 18 July, 2016
Tangling with te reo; the UK and Brexit; Nato vs Russia; and putting roofs over heads.
Cartoon/Phil Parker
Cartoon/Phil Parker


I agree that we can thank our radio and TV broadcasters for a growing confidence in te reo (Editorial, July 16). Their grasp of Maori pronunciation is generally very good and has influenced many New Zealanders to change the way they pronounce Maori place names.

As with anything, though, there is room for improvement. You mention the fortunate decline of “Para-pa-ramme”, but it bothers me to hear, in its place, “Para-para-oo-moo”.

The “a” and “u” in Paraparaumu should be pronounced as a combined vowel – “Para-par-au-mu” – with emphasis on the “au”.

The only non-Maori broadcaster I have heard pronouncing this correctly is Jim Mora on RNZ National.

There are a few other place names that also need attention – Manurewa, for one – but keep up the good work, broadcasters.

George Foote
(Remuera, Auckland)

The editorial highlights the reason many people prefer not to use the Maori language. But to imply that there is only one way to pronounce Maori place names, and that those who fail to follow the rules are philistines, is wrong. Who decided these rules? No doubt academics who gave little consideration to geographical variations of accent.

Go to Britain and hear how people pronounce place names such as Launceston, Worcester, Derby and Edinburgh, for example. Such variation it is almost poetic. And how does a Kiwi pronounce Paris and Rome? Certainly not as the natives of those cities do.

Come on, purists, stop being precious and make allowance for those who have not attended Maori speech lessons.

Molly Cass


The union of England and Scotland was created to secure and exploit to mutual benefit the resources of the Empire. Unfortunately, this arrangement has evolved into a manifestly unbalanced union in which the interests of the much smaller partner, Scotland, are generally overlooked. In consequence, the partnership now works to Scotland’s disadvantage.

The recent Brexit decision means that Scotland, whose population voted to remain, faces being removed from Europe against its wishes. The choice is now clear. Which union does Scotland want? We cannot have both. So it is “Better Together”, but with whom?

Peter Craigie
(Edinburgh, Scotland)

One explanation for Scotland’s 60% support for remaining in the EU is the ruthlessly successful SNP political machine, which has been relentlessly promoting a narrative that the country’s woes are due to the malign intentions of an English elite who supposedly drain Scotland’s resources for their own ends.

They do not use the word “English” for fear of being branded racist (which they are) so substitute words such as Westminster (Westmonster is used by some of the more rabid) or Tory. Where the Brexiters used immigrants as their bogeymen, the SNP have substituted Westminster as theirs.

Many politicians in the rest of the UK have made public stands against racism since the referendum result. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s main focus has been going around Europe to advance her project of separation from the UK. That is not leadership; it is cynical political opportunism.

Peter Fowler
(Aberdeen, Scotland)

When Scott Lelievre (Letters, July 16) refers to “liberal elites” not liking Brexit, it would surely be more correct to refer to neo-liberals such as David Cameron and George Osborne.

John Ross
(Palmerston North)

Had Peter Grattan (Letters, July 9) fully researched the topic he pontificates about so emotively, he would have discovered that there was much more intellectual ballast to the Leave campaign than he would like to credit it with.

There were many eloquent and sound proponents of Leave, such as the Tory MEP Daniel Hannan. In his book Why Vote Leave, Hannan gives an insider’s view of the EU, which he demonstrates cannot reform, can’t be democratic and can’t be divorced from its goal of an ever-closer political union. Hannan, as well as the more prominent pro-Leave campaigners, constantly reinforced this message in tele­vised interviews and debates throughout the campaign.

The notion that people who voted Leave had no idea what they were voting for is, therefore, completely unfounded and unverifiable. It is all very well for Grattan to talk about strength in unity, but he obviously knows nothing of the plight of the poor and dispossessed who have had enough and signalled to their elected representatives that they weren’t prepared to let them cede more political and economic power to an unaccountable bureaucracy of a nascent European state.

Colin Dowsett

Peter Grattan says unity is strength. I would say loyalty, understanding and tolerance are far greater strengths. Unity is what is found in bullying, gangs and bigoted political groupings.

I was also one of those Britons who voted to enter the EU in the early 1970s. Culturally, I remain British, and maintain dual nationality, and I am proud of my heritage and my Lancashire working-class origins. Neither Grattan nor the Listener, by publishing his letter, has any right to denigrate them.

Helen Woods

Scotland’s tennis supremo, Andy Murray, spiked a nerve-end of British political identity and purpose in his victory speech on the hallowed English turf of Wimbledon.

By mentioning departing UK Prime Minister David Cameron as one of those whom he’d had pleasure playing before on centre court, he stirred a chorus of boos from the crowd.

But hold on. Now that leader has bitten the dust, Theresa may find a way.

Mike Nicolaidi


It can be difficult for patients to put their trust in a doctor they don’t know. Skin Cancer College Australasia, of which I’m a fellow, has a website ( where patients can locate a college-accredited GP who has undertaken high-level training and testing through the college.

All college-accredited doctors use dermatoscopes to do top-to-toe skin examinations and audit their benign-to-malignant ratios.

Dr Dirk Venter
(Henderson, Auckland) 


Cathrin Schaer describes Sir Richard Shirreff as a “genial chap” writing his first piece of fiction, a potboiler (“East side story”, June 18). Unfortunately, what this genial chap, a British Army general and the former second-in-charge of Nato, espouses would have dire consequences.

A picture is painted of an unstable leader, Russian President Vladimir Putin, thirsting after the Soviet Union’s past greatness and invading his neighbours, including Ukraine. But Putin’s supposed threatening, posturing and, most of all, the purported invasions are all a fiction.

It would not be unreasonable to conclude, however, that the greatest threat to the world’s security comes not from Russia but from the neo-cons who rule the roost in Washington.

Robin Westenra
(Lower Hutt)


As we are daily spun the woes of the “housing crisis”, I feel we could benefit from an examination of the practices of other First World countries.

Germany is acknowledged to be an economic powerhouse, yet house ownership is not the aspiration of the average German. I spent a period working in Germany in the 90s and toyed with the idea of buying a house, but then discovered everyone rented, that you rented by the square metre and the rents for the suburb you chose to live in were controlled by city ordinances.

The space rented was much like office accommodation in New Zealand: you got a basic shell. My flat had bare wires where light fittings would be, and no kitchen. The culture was to invest in a rented property for the long term, confident that rents weren’t going to spiral and that the landlord wasn’t going to give you notice at random because his relatives wanted the space.

Rent control meant investors couldn’t rort the system as is  happening here with the Ministry of Social Development effectively financing landlords into their next property by paying beneficiaries’ rents in private accommodation.

As for German house values, since the global financial crisis, the house I almost bought is worth less than it was then.

Kevin Welch
(Glendowie, Auckland)

Why are we destroying many of Auckland’s open spaces all because people in other countries want to come and live here?

Roger Hall
(Takapuna, Auckland)

The Reserve Bank talks about measures to remove the tax incentives that have caused housing to be the investment of choice of New Zealanders and anyone else in the world who knows of our existence.

A comprehensive capital income tax (CCIT) is what we need. It would ensure foreign investors made some contribution to our economy. It would reduce the number of empty houses and the swallowing of good farmland to build yet more. It would increase economic efficiency and help to shift us from having 70% of our capital in the largely unproductive housing market.

David Read


The Wordsworth reminder that readers’ topic ideas are welcome (July 9) brought to mind my first entry to the competition. For years, I’d enjoyed the column without imagining that my tiny mind might make a contribution. Then I had a light-bulb moment when the challenge was naming the hats at William and Kate’s wedding. I sent in my idea, it was printed and I thought, “Hey! I can do this!” Wordsworth is great fun and a good brain exercise.

Anne Martin

The winning July 16 Wordsworth entry was: “Duplikate: a woman who consciously models her appearance on the Duchess of Cornwall.” Kate is the Duchess of Cambridge; the Duchess of Cornwall is Camilla.

Vivienne Hill
(Glenfield, Auckland)

Oops. Please don’t mention our misreading of Debrett’s to the Queen. – Ed.


Quips & Quotes (July 9)included a tweet that England is the only country to leave Europe twice in one week. But Northern Ireland did too. The difference is that in neither the referendum nor their football match did they look as though they wanted to.

Alan Lindsay


Last week’s story on the Cardrona Valley, “Heart of the high country”, was written by Eleanor Ainge Roy.


Instead of taxing smokers, many of whom are horribly addicted to a nasty drug, the Government should tax tobacco-company profits at 95% (Editorial, June 18). Taxing smokers is tantamount to requiring the victim of a crime to pay his or her own restitution.

Trevor Snowdon
(St Johns, Auckland)

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