How to Answer Questions: by Hekia Parata

Hi there everybody. I’m Hekia Parata and at the moment I’m your Minister of Education.

You know, many people come up to me all the time asking me questions. In by job as a member of parliament and cabinet minster I suppose this is to be expected. However, you might be surprised to find out how many of these questions I don’t actually want to answer. Sometimes it happens in parliament, but most of the time it happens outside in the street. You have to be on your toes.

In fact, someone came up to me the other day and said, “Minister, how come you are so good at not being able to answer the most simplest of questions?”

While I wasn’t answering his question I had some spare thinking time. It turned out that I agreed with this dishevelled voter. I am extremely good at not answering questions. So good that perhaps, like any good teacher, I should pass by wisdom on to the next generation.

So… someone asks you a question that you don’t want to answer… what can you do? I’ll use the example question: Excuse me, do you have the time? Although this seems fairly innocuous, I sometimes don’t feel like answering this question – especially when I’m asked it by some kind of person. So here are some ways I get around answering the question.

  1. Walk off without answering the question – this is the easiest option. Sometimes a well-placed “no comment” can make all the difference.
  2. Claim you are unable answer the question at the present time – another easy option. Pull your sleeve tightly down over your wrist and say, “I am unable to give you the time because I am not wearing a timepiece.” However, this option can backfire – particularly when you are wearing a strapless dress at the annual Post Primary Teachers Association AGM afternoon tea.
  3. Turn the question around and attack the asker – you need to be quite skilled to be able to pull this off. If you are asked the time, point out to the asker that time is an abstract concept and perhaps they should spend more of it saving up to by a watch than walking around the streets asking inane questions. I got this idea from Supreme Minister of Just About Everything in the Whole World, Steven Joyce.
  4. Answer a different question – if someone asks you for the time, direct their attention to the sun and suggest, “while asking the time is important, while the moon rotates around the earth, the earth actually rotates around the sun.”

I hope that’s been of some help. Any questions? No comment.

Hek x


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