Tua's political plans may pack a punch

MICHAEL LAWS
Last updated 05:00 27/10/2013
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
Boxer David Tua in Invercargill.

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OPINION: So heavyweight boxer David Tua wants to flatten opponents in a new arena … political, to be precise.

New Zealand's perennial "great brown hope" has announced that the Pasifika community is petitioning him to become its democratic representative once he hangs up his gloves. Which may be sooner rather than later if the giant Russian Alexander Ustinov has his way.

They are due to fight in Auckland next month but it's not exactly the pinnacle of sport - Tua is aged 40 years, Ustinov aged 36. Realistically, neither will ever challenge for any title of boxing merit ever again.

But David has a plan and shown that he's more savvy than the sceptics, who still ridicule him for his "O for Oarsum" contribution on a celebrity Wheel of Fortune some two decades ago.

He has been New Zealand's only true international boxer this past generation - indeed for many generations.

And he's drawn from ordinary Kiwis a grudging respect for his Lazarus-like redemptions. Ironically it wasn't his international successes, but his destruction of local legend Shane Cameron that will linger longest in the memory of sports fans.

Which goes to prove that Tua has one of the essential ingredients for a successful parliamentary career - a killer instinct.

Not that the sporting path to Parliament is littered with success. Of all the ex-All Blacks who graced the Chamber - Ben Couch, Tony Steel, Chris Laidlaw and Graham Thorne - you'd hardly say that they made a lasting impression. Individually, or collectively. Former Rugby World Cup-winning captain David Kirk couldn't even get there, despite his best efforts and those of former prime minister Jim Bolger.

The second attribute that Tua has - more important than ever these days - is obtuseness. No-one ever really knows what David is saying and that level of obscurantism is a gift. The Tuaman has it in spades - the ability to be orally opaque with every forced syllable.

Then there's his hipness. He's a Pacific Islander - exactly the right culture when most are wilfully shy of the public spotlight. Especially when they're with mixed cultures - their natural politeness acting as a liability among all the pushy palangi politicos.

And he's not shy. In fact, he has an innate ability to refer to himself in the third person - as a self-booster who doesn't quite want to escape his humility. Again, it's a gift. Only the Tuaman could get away with it.

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Finally, there's the fact that he isn't the brain of the Pacific. Being too clever, too intellectual, too discerning is a fault. Kiwis can't identify with academics or intellectuals - we prefer people who sound like us. It's the reason we forgive John Key his wealth - he massacres the English language all the better to remind us of his state house origins.

Then let's not forget that among his people, the Tuaman is a god. Who pointedly acknowledges that his athletic gifts come from the big "G". Priceless.

If I was NZ First wanting to evade the 5 per cent drop, the Conservatives wanting to properly party, Labour wanting to grassroot or National to spread their cultural base … then David Tua would be my target. Watch the rush.

- Sunday Star Times

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