American politics – and its comical leader – is a story even zany Dr Seuss couldn’t have dreamed up. While the US is struggling to get the coronavirus under control, the unfortunate and very untimely death of George Floyd under restraint by officer Derek Chauvin has taken more than just the limelight. Coronavirus? What coronavirus? If things have barely been in control in the US during the pandemic, then they are seriously out of control now. There is no escaping the shock blast when the political hand grenade that is racism decides to go off.
What this unfortunate incident has done is put the spotlight directly on police everywhere. Unlike fire fighters, who are revered for their bravery in the line of duty, police men and women – no less brave – are charged with upholding the law, and this difference ironically makes them enemy number one under most circumstances to the same communities they are trying to serve and protect.
Police Minister Stuart Nash has stated recently, in response to the Floyd death, that there is no place for racism in the New Zealand Police. And it seems we are policing our very own colourful kiwi population with an equally diverse police force. Under lockdown, the first police recruit graduation ceremony has just taken place, marking the completion of training for 57 new constables.
What surprised me was the makeup of that group. Of the 57, 45 per cent of the new officers are female, 19 per cent are Maori, 7 per cent are Pasifika, and 12 per cent are Asian. The drive for more women in blue seems to be working.
Closing the door
Political, financial and commercial observers have long seen Northland, including the Kaipara, as lagging behind other regions, but there are a few changes happening that are bound to see our poor fortunes turn around, such as upgraded rail and roading.
Another one of those changes is a functional local government that now seems to have the confidence of much of the district in the short time it has been sworn in. Usually council is being sworn at.
The Kaipara has had a spotted history of governance over the past decade. It was necessary that commissioners be appointed in 2012 to essentially manage the district out of receivership during the fallout from the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme cost blowout. Since then, following another game of musical chairs at head office, there seems to be a purposeful, well-intentioned, democratically elected council getting to work. Fingers crossed.
As the front door to the freedom that is Level One lockdown opens, round the back the door is finally closed on the lengthy rates wrangle between Bruce and Heather Rogan and the Council. After a 10-year battle with council through the court system, the Rogans recently paid their court ordered costs of $115,000. This puts an end to the matter.
Bruce and Heather are exhausted. Literally spent. Their health and wellbeing have suffered. A quote from Bruce in a recent Stuff article is telling: “If we had known that we were going to be exposed to such a huge financial hit, I don’t think Heather and I would’ve proceeded.”
Often outspoken and acerbic, Bruce surely went into the fight with his eyes open, and well aware of the consequences. But despite the result we have to respect someone who fights with such belief for a cause, and pays their dues. Bruce and Heather will appreciate that there is no loss in a moral victory.