A week of apologies

The Prime Minister's sorry, the Rugby Union's sorry, Tuhoe is really sorry, and Tariana Turia is in high dudgeon

It was a week of apologies.

Everyone was apologising to everyone else about the pakeha-only rugby tours of South Africa and the Prime Minister apologised to anyone who took offence at him cracking the same cannibal joke at a couple of functions.

The media did a rare bit of tut-tutting at John Key’s so called insensitivity, though I don’t recall any widespread outrage when an Aussie reporter described the courtier sitting beside the then capacious King of Tonga at some royal wedding or other as “his lunch”.

I did feel a fleeting frisson of shared victimhood with the Prime Minister this week.

He phoned Tariana Turia to tell her that title to Te Urewera National Park was off the table in the settlement process with the Tuhoe tribe, and he reported that Mrs Turia was “totally fine” with the decision.

Mrs Turia went ballistic and claimed that such a response was never made. According to Mrs T, the PM made that bit up. Though the L word was eschewed, honour was questioned.

I’m betting the PM’s version of the conversation is closer to what happened. Here’s why.

Shortly before Mrs Turia left the Labour Party, the party secretary and I travelled to Wanganui with whatever kaimoana we could find to confirm an agreement with the then Minister.

The deal was for Mrs Turia to resign as a minister so she could vote against the Foreshore and Seabed Act, to go to the backbenches for a few months, and then get restored to the ministry.

The Party’s role was to top up a reduced parliamentary salary during the backbench stint and to provide the wherewithal to keep the minister and family in the ministerial accommodation in that period.

The discussions were amicable and agreement was reached. I called Helen as we left for Wellington with the good news.

I don’t recall talking much to George Turia, though I’d met him on the 1999 Maori bus tour of the North Island and liked his cool wisdom.

History will tell you that the deal never happened, Mrs Turia’s tipuna intervened, and she finally decided to leave the Party and to resign her seat.

It was a nasty surprise for me when years later the Sunday News filled a few column inches in the holidays by asking various politicians what they liked about their spouses or partners.

Mrs Turia reported that she really liked the way George stood up to me when I tried to “bully” her at the encounter described above.

This was plain nonsense.

There was no bullying, not even harsh words .Why would there be?

We came with a generous and timely offer to someone in conflict, with kids to consider, and it was graciously accepted, however briefly.

There are some conversations where one of those pearlcorders in your fob pocket doesn’t go amiss, particularly when you’re dealing with the double-sided sticky tape of New Zealand politics.

In other dramatic developments this week, the Dominion Post crashed into the lead in the hard fought race for the 'Richard Long Award for One Eyed Editorialising'.

The dear old DomPost fulminated against Jim Anderton’s intention to remain an MP if he was elected Mayor of Christchurch, which is highly likely.

Where was this august organ when the MP for Maungakiekie hung on to a second salary as an Auckland City Councillor for a year after the 2008 election?