Jonathan Milne: If I'm wrong about this one, you'll be calling for my resignation – and rightly so
OPINION: Once, he committed a heinous crime. If you really want to, Google him, and you'll find his name. But not here, not today. We've decided to give this man a second chance.
Everyone is entitled to a second chance – right? But what if they are a patched gang member? What if they are a meth-dealing streetfighter? What if they once kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old girl?
This week, Ngati Ruanui kaumatua Ngapari Nui was stood down from voluntary work at Whanganui Prison because of his Black Power affiliations.
It wasn't because he'd been leading young inmates astray. To the contrary, he'd been doing a good job, everyone agreed, in helping them rehabilitate themselves. Even Corrections admitted that; even conservative local MP Chester Borrows said so. But Corrections minister Judith Collins said Nui's sacking was about "the principle".
* Rapist tells how he is 'haunted' by his crime
* Gangster turned Christian living life on a different kind of high
* Chester Borrows backs prison volunteer stood down by Judith Collins for gang links
Corrections had known Nui was a life member of Black Power but, when Collins laid down the hard word, they dumped Nui. Chief executive Ray Smith said you couldn't have one foot with the good guys, one with the gangs.
So, extraordinarily, they stopped him doing his good works; essentially, they forced him to place both feet squarely with the bad guys.
Nui should be allowed a second chance.
Then, this week, we met Jayson Rogers, a fighter, a gangster and a fulltime meth dealer who joined a kickboxing class "to become more lethal"; instead he and his partner Kristal found God. "You couldn't pay us a million dollars to go back to where we were," Kristal says.
Rogers should be allowed a second chance.
But the story that really caused us to take pause this week was that of a man going door-to-door in Christchurch as part of his job. This man had changed his name. Previously, under another name, he was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl.
We were ready to do a story revealing his new identity; warning the good people of Christchurch, as we saw it, before he came knocking on their doors.
But then, after discussions with his lawyer, the man fronted up to us. He told us what he'd done, and what he was now doing to stay out of trouble. Those who knew him – including a decorated police officer and the Salvation Army's top reintegration expert – vouched for him. "We need to help support these people in the community rather than continuously kicking them."
He acknowledges that if he reoffends, he can expect no mercy.
Previously, when this man has started new jobs, media have named and shamed him. Each time he's lost his job, changed his name, started again. If you really want to, Google him, and you'll find his name.
But not here, not today. We've decided to give this man a second chance.
Of course, if he does commit a serious offence again this week, New Zealand will rightly be demanding he be locked up again for ever and a day. And readers might legitimately demand my resignation for not doing more to warn the public about his new identity and whereabouts.
So be it.
At that point, second chances go out the window ...
Congrats to Powerball winners, back to work for the rest of us
Three months ago I bemoaned the reliance of New Zealand sports and arts on lotteries grants funding – made all the more painful by a decline in Lotto revenues meaning less money distributed to worthy causes.
The reason, as internal affairs minister Peter Dunne explained, was that there hadn't been enough big jackpots, drawing the punters down to the Lotto shops of the nation.
Well, don't things change in three months? Later that month, the jackpot climbed to $22.2 million before it was struck by a lucky Ashburton local. And then, this weekend, it blew out to an all-time-record must-be-struck $40 million.
So to all of you who bought tickets, pat yourselves on the back. You didn't do it out of avarice, no sirree.
You did it to support New Zealand's struggling sports and arts communities, of course. Good onya!
- Sunday Star Times