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Barry Soper: Jacinda Ardern's embarrassing dinner guest moment

Author
Barry Soper ,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 7 February 2019, 6:25a.m.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Naida Glavish at Te Whare Ruanga Marae for the Waitangi Day celebrations. Photo / John Stone
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Naida Glavish at Te Whare Ruanga Marae for the Waitangi Day celebrations. Photo / John Stone

COMMENT:

It was an embarrassing dinner guest moment, made worse because the guest pretended to know what she was talking about but clearly didn't and everyone knew it.

But was the question to Jacinda Ardern, revelling in Māori adoration in the North, a fair one?

Did she know what the first article of the Treaty of Waitangi said? "Oh Article One, on the spot," she exclaimed before one of her te reo speaking minions standing behind her blurted out the much abbreviated Māori version of the article which Ardern repeated badly, trying to give the impression she knew all along.

Article Two, she was asked. "Ah, look, ah," she faltered as her te reo speaker came to her aid which she again mispronounced in Māori badly before going on to say she knew the principles of the Treaty and knew the Government's obligations under it.

The question was asked for a reason, as the leader of the nation, attending what she's turned into a personal five day event for her, she should have known the articles of the Treaty - there are only three of them. Forget the te reo version that she parroted, the English would have done.

She was there after all, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty and should have been fully across its contents.

The articles deal with sovereignty, property rights and citizenship.

In fairness to Ardern, if John Key was asked the same question, his face would have broken into a wide smile but he more than likely wouldn't have even attempted to answer.

And it's fair to say that most of us, if we were asked about the Treaty articles, would most likely have given a blank stare, and that's shameful.

Our political leaders make much of the Treaty of Waitangi being the nation's foundation document but when it comes to its contents most of them have paid lip service to it.

There's no need to enshrine it in our legislation which is meaningless. The document signed in 1840 put in place the foundation for one sovereign nation and all laws passed by it should encompass that.

But at the very least our schools should be teaching our kids to understand the contents of this relatively brief document so that when they grow up to be Prime Minister they'll be the dinner guest worth listening to.

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