Let's not just blindly cheer for Kiwis such as Helen Clark and Steven Adams, let's judge them on merit
I am not supporting Helen Clark or Steven Adams.
Before you choke on your coffee, here’s why. I do not support New Zealanders just because they are New Zealanders. That’s near blind loyalty of the “my country, right or wrong” variety. Neither Helen Clark nor Steven Adams really thrill me and I decline to jump on the bandwagon.
Helen Clark was a very effective and successful politician and a moderately successful Prime Minister. She will, in my opinion, go down as neither one of the worst nor one of the best Prime Ministers. Just because she is Kiwi many seem to think she deserves our unmitigated endorsement as Secretary-General of the United Nations. John Key thinks so. Perhaps he sees diffuse downstream benefits for New Zealand if she gains the top job. But I do no see why I should root for her.
A respected publication, Foreign Policy, alleged she has been ruthless with her staff whilst head of the UN Development Programme. Clark hotly denied this charge, responding that it was “totally fabricated”.
She is a socialist, or if you like, a liberal democratic socialist, so should I put my (conservative) political beliefs aside and now support her? I did not root for her in New Zealand and I won’t root for her in New York. Would a democratic socialist Secretary-General of the UN be better or worse? I suspect it would be worse insofar as the UN will become more bureaucratic and seek to arrogate to itself more power.
I don’t see our former PM trimming the UN from a bloated ineffectual heavyweight to an incisive welterweight.
Turning to Steven Adams, the sporting public is encouraged to support him and his NBA team. There has been a fawning over him that is, I think, unseemly. Part of it is the usual cultural cringe. A Kiwi is doing well in Europe or the US and we rejoice. Celebration of success is natural and patriotic and I join in it, but you can take a good thing too far.
As for Adams, he has consistently refused to play for the New Zealand men’s basketball team (I dislike the silly marketing name, Tall Blacks). One day he might; but so far he never has. I am not holding my breath. He declined to do so in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. He declined to do so in the Olympic qualifiers for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Each time he essentially cited his need to secure his playing future with his American professional basketball team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s fine. He is a free agent. But don’t expect me to support him.
I did not like it when Glenn Turner (then at his peak, aged 29) turned his back on the NZ cricket team for 6 years —after, it seems, another spat with the administrators—to play brilliantly for Worcestershire. Take another example: Former NZ football captain, Tommy Smith, these days plying his trade at Ipswich Town, has not been selected in recent times. Current national coach, Anthony Hudson, explained: “Tommy has not been able to commit to us again, and as a result I will not be selecting him for the All Whites going forward.”
You might say I am unrealistic and naive. These sportspeople have a limited career and they must make hay while the sun shines. Certainly I can see that. But just don’t expect me to cheer for them.
I support Kiwis in music, art, science, literature, sport, you name it, when they deserve it. I don't support them just because they figuratively drape a NZ flag around their shoulders.
Let us by all means celebrate the many accomplishments of New Zealanders at home and abroad. But let’s not get too carried away.