David Slack: Looking for leaders in the wrong places

Thanks to an accident of birth, Prince George could be King of New Zealand tomorrow if the worst happened to the royal ...

Thanks to an accident of birth, Prince George could be King of New Zealand tomorrow if the worst happened to the royal family.

OPINION: The week was crammed, just crammed.  

Raging and vein-popping at Metiria Turei. Appalling weather. More raging and and vein-popping at Metiria Turei, mostly by the Taxpayers' 'Union' and its big-swinging members.

The lid swung open on Salvador Dali's crypt, and likewise Winston's.

David Slack asks if it's too much to put the cuteness aside while we fix what really matters.

David Slack asks if it's too much to put the cuteness aside while we fix what really matters.

Labour and the Greens and The Opportunities Party released policies that had a clue and did not rely on tax cuts. Steven Joyce said they didn't have a clue.

Here's to giving it the old school try
Let's not overestimate the influence of terror
* When it comes to travel, I have a one-track mind

But never mind all that, there was still time for the TV news to bring us lavish coverage of George, aged 3, of London. Look! His dad wants him to step out of the plane. Will he? No he won't, he's a shy 3-year-old boy! A real-life prince looking just like a 3-year-old boy!

Was it all just adorable? We waited for guidance from the news presenter's face. Yes! Just adorbs! A "naww" with six W's.

Perish the thought, but if this weekend, his father, grandfather and great-grandmother were all to perish, that little boy would be King of New Zealand.

Do we see any meaning in our monarchy? Or are we just attached to the characters of a long-running soap opera? Last Christmas a hoax BBC news alert flew around the internet reporting the Queen's death. They fooled me. Even though her passing is something to expect, it still shocked, and it will, too, when the news is real.

What will follow will be reflection, admiration, pomp, ceremony, and a wagon rolling down The Mall, I suppose. We will have plenty to say, and then after a week or so we will probably move on, because that seems to be our way.

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But how about Thailand, where they are marking the passing of the king last year by building a 165-foot funeral pyre to send his soul into the afterlife.

The Thai way is to take a year to mark such a passing. This coming October, a year of remembrance will culminate in a cremation ceremony before 8000 invited guests, and millions more watching on television.

They do things differently from us, the Thais, including government, quite often by military junta.

The king was much admired and influential, 70 years on the throne, a long and productive life. He seems very missed. The pyre will be adorned with images from mythology and from his life. In villages many hours from Bangkok you will find people patiently making decorations for the ceremony.

It doesn't seem to make sense that you would look for leadership from a person simply dropped into the position by accident of birth. But where do we look for inspiration and leadership? Do we look to our politicians, or do we look more widely?

Who, for example, do you find more inspiring on the subject of vaccination? Health Minister Jonathan Coleman or GP and New Zealander of the year Lance O'Sullivan?

People loved the idea of John Key as a prime minister you could have a beer with, but wouldn't you rather he'd left us with affordable houses than a bit of banter and a good time?

Where does that leave us as far as politics is concerned? Are we looking for the wrong love in the wrong places? Is it possible we would be better served by capable politicians than charismatic ones?

This is why I grind my teeth when I see a news item about an adorable prince. I think: can we get the election issues sorted out first? Can we straighten out a few misconceptions before we get to the adorbs stuff?

National is good with money and the others aren't, you say? Let's test that. Economic growth? Hardly. They've milked an immigration gain without paying for it. Competent? You mean, say, Paula Bennett's concession that the Government's housing crisis response had been too slow and "we had no idea how much it was going to cost."

Metiria should be locked up, you say? This just seems wilfully deaf to the point she was making. What was her point: that in far too many cases, possibly tens of thousands, the  benefit is simply not enough to live on. People are lying to ensure they can feed their baby. Are you quite sure you wouldn't?

How about we get that stuff straight before we go on to the cute pictures?

 - Sunday Star Times


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