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Greetings from Beach Haven to the people of Whanganui.
Mayor Michael Laws’ – NEEDS to apologise to Primary School, Principal, Teacher and especially the diplomatic Pupils – The days of Colonialist ARROGANCE is OVER – Get real Laws – Up on; Equal Parenting @ Ration Shed BLOG – Onward – Jim (Full sig Below)
School letter stoush: Michael Laws invited to Otaki
By KATHERINE NEWTON and CLIO FRANCIS
Last updated 16:28 03/09/2009
Otaki School students might not take up Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws’ invitation for afternoon tea in Wanganui, but he is welcome to come and visit them.
Following an exchange of angry letters with a group of primary school pupils, Mr Laws hoped to smooth troubled waters by inviting seven children from year 7 and 8 classes at Otaki School’s kura kaupapa unit to afternoon tea.
The children who wrote to Laws saying they thought the spelling of Wanganui should have an “h” were upset that they received a letter back suggesting their teacher be sacked and that they control their anger.
Mr Laws replied to the letters telling them: “there are so many deficiencies of both fact and logic in your letters that I barely know where to start”.
The father of one of the pupils said he resented the “bullying undertone” of Mr Laws’ response.
Otaki School deputy Principal Alice Derbidge told NZPA today the girls were shocked and disappointed with Mr Laws’ response.
They would like to have a face-to-face with him but did not think it was necessary to go up to Wanganui, about 100km away, and express the views of Wanganui iwi.
However, they were keen for Mr Laws to visit the school.
She said they would discuss an invitation to Mr Laws with the children and parents tonight.
The school had been swamped with media attention and the school and parents had considered shielding the students, but it was felt they were confident and articulate enough to deal with the attention.
The letters were written earlier in the year when the subject of “h” in Wanganui was in the public eye. They were part of the school curriculum, which asked them to look at current events, social sciences and letter writing.
The girls had come up with the idea of writing to Mr Laws themselves, she said.
LAWS RESPONDS ON RADIO
The radio station Laws works for, Radio Live ran an item about the bullying allegations during their 9am news bulletin, and just minutes before Laws was to begin his regular talk back show.
Veteran news reader Hilary Barry dissolved into giggles when she read the story, concluding “Michael Laws hung up on Radio Live when we contacted him this morning.”
Laws addressed the allegations on his programme and spoke of his surprise at opening The Dominion Post this morning to “find myself in the midst of yet another controversy”.
He said his reply to the 11 and 12-year-olds was facetious, “but had a serious intent of questioning the emotions contained in the letters”.
However, he said he had written to the school inviting the students and their parents to afternoon tea so that they could discuss the issue.
“I am sure that after a good chat any misunderstanding will be removed from this discussion.”
‘CONTROLLING YOUR ANGER MIGHT BE A START’
A fierce opponent of any name change, Mr Laws replied to the children that he would take their views seriously “when your class starts addressing the real issues affecting Maoridom particularly the appalling rate of child abuse and child murder within Maori society, then I will take the rest of your views seriously.”
He added: “Perhaps sacking your teacher for allowing such misapprehension to flourish?”
In handwriting at the bottom of his letter, Mr Laws wrote: “PS Controlling your anger might be a start!”
On his show this morning, Laws said he had looked up the meaning of bullying in the dictionary this morning, he said, and did not believe the letters he had written made him a bully.
Laws said he had been “shocked” by the tone of the letters he received, which he says were “demanding” and “angry” from children who “live nowhere near Wanganui.”
“I think it’s wrong for kids to be angry about something inanimate, don’t you?”
“They were demanding letters by 11 and 12-year-old and all stated their personal anger. They were written in Maori and we had them translated into English and we thought ‘holy moly’.”
“Needless to day I wrote back to them and said this is a bit off and aren’t there other things you should get angry about…”
The pupils were upset by the reply and family members questioned yesterday whether the response was acceptable.
“If he was to send a letter like this to an adult, that’s one thing … but she said in her letter that she was an 11-year-old girl,” said Shayne Wihongi, the uncle of letter-writer Ngarui Waahitia-Manukau, 12.
Her father, Tim Manukau, said the “bullying undertone” of Mr Laws’ response was “unbecoming of his position”.
Mr Laws was unrepentant last night. He said the pupils were “put up to it” by their teacher.
“Do you honestly think that children give a continental about how Wanganui is spelt? Children this age care about Harry Potter.”
Class teacher Selwyn Katene said last night that the children decided to write and he did not tell them what to say.
“I certainly didn’t feed them the words or the justifications that they put forward.”
The Geographic Board will consider the Wanganui spelling on September 16.
Michael Laws this morning released copies of the letters pupils from Otaki School wrote to him. The letters were originally in Maori but his office had them translated into English.
Greetings to the Council
My name is Rautini Thompson from Otaki School and the Te Korowai Whakamana class.
I am very angry with you all, put the H back in Whanganui, e.g. this name is the name of the land first. I know it is only a name, but to disallow the letter H being put back now is condescending to everyone and the Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty is a gift that guides New Zealand in the Maori language, the aim in which your decisions are based within your discussions.
So be it
To Michael Laws
This is Ngarui writing to you and I am a girl who is 11 years of age. I attend Otaki School and I am in Te Korowai Whakamana class.
The subject of my discussion is to change the name Wanganui to Whanganui.
I am very angry with you, and do not support your actions on not changing the name. I also do not support the discussion that money is no the issue as the name is the only topic.
My opinion is to change the name in support of Whanganui Maori! It is their land and they are the residents of that area.
The implementation of the Treaty of Waitangi is to look after the treasures of the people of New Zealand, in this case the Whanganui tribal people.
Your decision should be based on the peoples perspective, with changes that uphold the Treaty of Waitangi.
The name of Whanganui needs to be returned and clarified. The translation of “whanga” means “Harbour”, and “nui” means “big.” Therefore the translation of Whanganui is “Big Harbour.” What is the explanation for “wanga?”
So be it
Greetings to the Mayor of Whanganui
I am writing to you about the topic of the letter H in the name of Wanganui.
My name is Maria and I am a child from the Otaki school, whom is very angry with what you are saying about the above matter. As you are the mayor of Whanganui you need to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi by ensuring the change is made to the name.
1 Explain, clarify the meaning of the name Whanganui.
2 Take the lead from the Whanganui tribe.
So be it “Listen to the explanation”
Greetings to you Michael Laws
Hello my name is Te Aniwa and I am 11 years of age. My family is originally from the Paraparaumu area and I attend Otaki School.
Put the letter “H” back
We as Maori strongly advise you to put the letter “H” back as the translation of the name “Whanga” means harbour and “nui” means big, in other words “Whanganui” means “Big Harbour.” There is no meaning to the word “wanga.” Therefore, we as Maori would like to authorise the “H” being put back to uphold your commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.
What is the purpose for changing the name of the town of Peter, if you won’t change the letter “H?”
Hello to you Michael Laws the Mayor of Whanganui
Hello my name is Amokura. I am 12 years of age and I attend Otaki School in Te Korowai Whakamana class.
The topic of this letter is to enable changes to the name of Wanganui to the correct name Whanganui.
I am not happy with the council and I am angry with your ability to challenge this serious subject as this is belittling the authority of maori of that area.
My opinion is to put the letter “H” back into the name of the town Wanganui to Whanganui. I also encourage the Whanganui District Council to put the letter back in the name, and not focus on the costings.
My name is Te Rangiamohia Nikora-Davis. I am 11 years of age and I am in Te Korowai Whakamana class at Otaki.
I do not agree with your decision on the name for the town of Whanganui. The Whanganui Maori are the guardians of Whanganui and will be for some time.
The clarification of the word “Wanganui” is a Pakeha word, we do not support having both names.
Te Rangimohia Nikora-Davis
Hello Michael laws
My name is Teina from Otaki School.
The topic of this letter is about the name of the town Wanganui.
In my opinion Wanganui should be Whanganui, as I recognize “Whanganui” to mean “Big Harbour.” I do not agree with the council and non-maori decision as this is maori land, hence put the “H” back.
Change the name of the town with the “H” back, please reconsider Michael.
– Stuff.co.nz and Dominion Post with NZPA
Comment #83 12:52 pm Sep 03 2009
Perhaps Mr Laws should have responded differently – just reworded it better.
But totally support him, and glad someone out there actually has the balls to stand up and voice his opinion.
I think they all need to look at the major issues surrounding the Maori group, not petty things like this. And yes it is petty. If it meant that much, it would have been done years ago. Mind you if it isn’t this, there will some other thing to moan about next week.
Shane #82 12:51 pm Sep 03 2009
I find it very hard to believe that teacher Selwyn Katene did not influence these kids on what to say or who to write to, he clearly used these kids to demonstrate his own opinion on the issue.
It’s already been said here today; Maori need to let go of the little things that irk them and focus on the bigger issues, such as child abuse, crime, education… the list goes on and on, but does not include the spelling of a town name. You could argue this is why Maori are behind most or all other races in most areas, because they simply don’t even try to solve the major issues plaguing them.
mike wc #81 12:50 pm Sep 03 2009
M Laws wrote the truth – this kids are being manipulated by a teacher and there are much more important issues. As to you people abusing Mr Laws – get off you backsides and do something about the valid issues he raises rather then whinging about the messenger.
Davo #80 12:49 pm Sep 03 2009
Obviously put up to it. And so what if they are angry with it. How about I am angry with crime, rape, sucking the dole dry and constant shifting of blame as to why certains races have certains problems. Change thema nd you can have you whakaing H
The Queen #79 12:47 pm Sep 03 2009
Bob Saggatt for Mayor of WHanganui!
Megan #78 12:46 pm Sep 03 2009
Shameful behaviour on your part, Mr Laws. It is totally unacceptable to respond in the way you did to these letters, whether they were from children or adults.
anne #77 12:46 pm Sep 03 2009
Congratulations to these children for speaking out about something they fell so strongly about. It doesn’t matter where they live, they obviously don’t appreciate the Maori language being butchered. How condescending of Michael Laws saying they should be involved with Harry Potter rather than something they obviously feel very deeply about. These children are our future and should be encouraged rather than ridiculed as they have been. Keep up the great work kids! Congratulations to the parents and teachers who so supportive of these young adults.
GeraldNZ #76 12:43 pm Sep 03 2009
If you’re in public office you have to accept that people will get angry about some of your decisions, right or wrong. The appropriate response is to deal with them all with grace and as much respect as you can muster. Laws has a cheek claiming that the children need to control their anger. He’s well known for losing his cool, and here’s another example.
Mark #75 12:41 pm Sep 03 2009
Now we have seen the letters, looks like the Mayor was right.
Alexander #74 12:41 pm Sep 03 2009
AJ at #48: In your opinion Maori are not addressing problems within their culture effectively. First – I would be interested to see any evidence you have that suggests that Maori organisations and institutions are not doing their absolute best to do exactly this. Secondly – Even if you believe that Maori are not addressing other problems, what gives Michael Laws the right to treat children (or anyone) with courtesy and good manners who write letters expressing an opinion that he disagrees with. This is shocking behaviour on the part of a Mayor. Maori who are angry about the lack of an ‘h’ in ‘Wanganui’ are not ignoring other greater issues, nor ‘pointing the finger at Pakeha’, they are merely seeking the respect that their language deserves just as I’m sure any culture would. Yes i am a Pakeha and yes i am from Whanganui
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