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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 21st year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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New Zealand - Paradise lost

9 January 2017

Welcome to 2017. And that's an unqualified welcome to all, regardless of their race, religion or creed.

Why did I bother with that second sentence?

Well, based on events that occurred last week, it seems that some folk are incredibly easy to offend. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that a tiny minority (gosh can you say "minority" these days) are constantly on the lookout for something to be offended by.

Okay, I'm going over the top (again) but I have to wonder exactly what happened on Waiheke Island that resulted in so many people wailing and gnashing their teeth whilst shouting "racism" at the top of their voice.

Unfortunately, the only source most of us have for the "facts" is the mainstream media -- which means that these "facts" are questionable at best. With this in mind we have to concede that any conclusions drawn may be wildly incorrect.

As I understand things, a young lady of Maori descent (somewhere up the family tree) took offense at a remark made by the "bloke's bloke" Peter Leitch (aka "The Mad Butcher).

Now when I was a kid, one of the few valuable bits of wisdom instilled in me by my parents was the incredibly insightful "Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you".

Whenever someone said something hurtful or insulting, we were told to shrug it off because the only way it *can* hurt you is if you let it do so.

As a result, we grew up tough. When we were insulted, called names or chanted at by other kids, we just said "ha" and moved on. Doing this rendered the offenders utterly powerless -- it was a great feeling.

Move to 2017 however, and it seems that some parents are teaching their kids to find offence in anything and everything that is said to them. We have the "victim mentality" growing at an enormous rate.

Now the young lady in question claims to be a member of the "proud warrior race" that is Maori. So how can it be that she's so deeply hurt by the flippant, off-hand remark of some crusty old pakeha? Oops... it seems that the "proud warrior race" has become a collection of sissies and thin-skinned whingers.

Unless I've got that wrong.

Why is it that some small-minded people from within the ranks of certain minorities feel free to insult Europeans with impunity -- and even use the "n" word at each other -- yet get hysterically upset when someone even remotely criticises them?

Even the most objective criticisms are all-too-often referred to as "brown bashing" by those who seek out offence at every opportunity.

Excuse me if my comments appear to be generalising -- it's not my intention to do so. I should clearly state that the vast majority of people I know, of every race and culture are straight-up good people with a mature, sensible outlook on life. It is only a very small subset of *every* race and culture that belong to this "find offence in everything" group. However, my tolerance of these people, regardless of their race, culture, colour creed or religion is a big fat ZERO.

Instead of whimpering like a frightened puppy they should just take a teaspoon of cement and harden up.

Clearly their parents didn't instill in them the wise words that my parents gave to me -- or they'd be laughing and showing contempt for those who would attempt to insult or demean them. Instead, they empower those people by allowing themselves to become victims of those words.

I recall that back in the 1970s, when I first came to New Zealand, this really was a far more egalitarian and unified nation than it is today. I had many friends of non-European ancestry and the issue of race was never an "issue". A person's ethnicity was just not an issue -- either spoken or unspoken. A friend was a friend, a work colleague was a co-worker and a person you smiled at in the street was just another Kiwi.

How sad that we've lost that.

How sad that all the races involved have lost the peace and harmony that such a race-agnostic society created.

I can't help but feel that the current disharmony and disunity has been fomented by just a very small group who have an axe to grind or perhaps seek personal gain in some way or another.

Instead of a "kiwi" society that's neither exclusively Maori nor exclusively European, we are increasingly creating a "them and us" society where race has become an issue which divides and creates anger.

Paradise lost I fear. Perhaps the greatest tragedy to befall this country in many generations has slowly stolen what was once this nation's greatest asset - the unity of its peoples.

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