What About the Legacy?

My father is a retired teacher. Like all teachers he likes to keep himself busy with a range of retirement projects. He sits on the Body Corporate committee for his block of flats. He runs various grandchildren around Christchurch. He also writes the family history.

Every year in January we children get a copy of the family history bound, as it is, in Warehouse Stationary issue plastic binders. On our bookshelf sit several large tomes, all featuring a range of periods of our family story. From the first Fletchers who arrived in New Zealand in the mid-1800s through to my grandfather Dr. George Alexander Chambers. He, among other things, was one of the 14 or so founding pupils of Trinity Grammar School in Sydney (founded by my great-great uncle the Rev. G. A. Chambers) and invented a way to burn warts off using a magnifying glass as he worked in outback Australia and didn’t have access to the liquid nitrogen they used in town.

My father’s legacy will be his family history. When he departs this world I will look to my bookshelves and know the many hundreds of hours he put in to recording the settling of the Fletchers in New Zealand and the Chambers in Australia will make me proud to be his son.

Legacy is a funny thing. It can be subjective. Rev. George A. Chambers of Sydney and his subsequent family (many of whom are still dotted around Australia’s largest city), would have been / are proud to be associated with his legacy. Some have even attended said institution.

What happens with the subjective legacy?

You ask any National Party voter. I’m certain they will be proud of the government led by Jim Bolger and latterly Jenny Shipley which gutted the welfare state, brought in student loans, sold off much of the Housing New Zealand stock etc, etc, etc. There are others of us who remember that time very, very differently.

They were the sorriest excuse for a government New Zealand ever had.

Until now.

Now we have a smiling muppet who lies to us, almost daily, yet seems to be held in high enough regard to get 50% support for his party from the public he so routinely lies to.

Lies are also subjective. One man’s lie is another man’s education policy.

What is going to be the legacy of John Key’s government? Are we going to look back on him in 20 years and think, “you know, that man had his faults, what with his brain-fades and slimy used-car salesman attitude, but shit he was a good prime minister. New Zealand led the world in everything when he left power. So ably supported by Paula Bennett and the far too neutral David Carter! Don’t you dare get me started on Bill English…”

No. In 20 years I think we are going to look back at the last 5 years with a huge sense of sadness and regret. That was the time that New Zealand became broken. Sliced up further and distributed to the 1% by the 0.0000132%*. A time when law changes were made not to benefit New Zealand companies or people, but to benefit a small number of hugely profitable multinational corporations. We will look back and see that the government was willing to offer our laws up to these companies without being prompted in a “look, if you do this for us, we will do this for you” way.

Saddest of all will be the legacy to our education system. The New Zealand Curriculum, envy of the world, will have been ditched in favour of testing for facts. Innovation and 21st Century Learning will have been redefined as the regurgitation of a series of facts during an examination not the applying of knowledge to new situations (you know, like we do in our actual adult work lives). Technically this is not where we are at the present time, but history and experience in other countries tell us that bringing in national standards can only lead us down this backward path.

No. This legacy of this government will be lies, media manipulation, and corruption.

Unless we let it.

Labour has started saying they will repeal various laws (charter schools, GCSB legislation) if they win in 2014. How much of this is visionary thinking and how much of this is pandering to the popular vote I don’t know. What I do know is that despite the undermining of the fabric of New Zealand democracy by the National government, Labour hasn’t managed to break their stranglehold on the electorate. Until there is real vision from them and others on the left, then National will continue to receive half the popular vote (It would be interesting to see how popular National is without John Key as their leader).

Let’s hope the next government we get will be keen on leaving the type of legacy that will be good for the whole of New Zealand and not just a limited number of corporate mates.

Mr B.

* That’s an actual percentage I worked out based on the number of National Party MPs divided by the current population of New Zealand suggesting the National Party are about as representative of New Zealanders as the Khmer Rouge were of Cambodian academics. Because it’s a population clock, the figure will be already out of date, and National will be even less representative of New Zealand than it was when I constructed the above sentence.


Trinity Grammar School website

Trinity Grammar School – Wikipedia

Population Clock – Statistics New Zealand


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