Poem – Now that they’ve made Susan Devoy Race Relations Commissioner


Now that they’ve made Susan Devoy Race Relations Commissioner

Racism in New Zealand is polite –  her smile is not too wide.

She drinks tea and welcomes you in     but wait, first wipe your dirty foreign feet        outside

We like to retell the stories

of kiwi battlers that have made it       on their own

with only a rugby ball or a squash racquet                    against the tide       of Others.

We know who all the heroes are.

Racism will walk in and mutter about burqas under her breath. The people at number 19

will always be “that Muslim family”

“the Chinese doctor” and “his wife is lovely, but she doesn’t speak much English”.

We like to pretend

That Waitangi day is just another day for drinking beer with your mates

Not the signing of a dishonoured treaty. So Racism will lean close and say,

“those bloody Maori are just stirrers” not people that have endured

and                      endured.

Not resistance fighters. Not survivors.

My illegal immigrant father taught me to always be polite to elders and to authority. (Politeness – like a second skin – a skirt that needs taking out)

We were polite even after the Dawn Raids (you need to smile nicely – and not show teeth – at the people you can’t trust).

I’ve noticed when Karlo reads,                                      there are two different translations

The Pasifika version, where we hear our babies crying                         and

The Pakeha version, where somehow our pain     is rewired in their ear canals to sound like ukelele music, and they think she is just talking about                fish.

Now that they’ve made Susan Devoy

Race Relations Commissioner

I know I’ve been polite for too long                      because Paheka commentators think

Marama is just a loudmouth        and

Tze Ming Mok is the only              one that is                 angry.

(No, this is not a kettle that can be taken off the boil, left aside for a month to cool off, while National finds manuka honeyed words to slip inside your mouth).

We are all angry.

19 thoughts on “Poem – Now that they’ve made Susan Devoy Race Relations Commissioner

  1. I have been posting it everywhere as my final blow to any arrogant nitwits who try and tell me I’m wrong – LOL!

  2. I was inspired by this and others on Facebook to whip up one of my own just now.

    Joke news from New Zealand

    For Judith Collins & Susan Devoy

    From afar, from worse than nowhere, they emerge
    out of a middleness so deep, it drowns all sound:
    This army of animals is coming for us.

    Dogs prove better drivers
    than foreigners who will kill and
    eat their own pit-bulls,

    to fight the state-sanctioned genocide
    of cats. But the penguins will be the true masters
    Their constant migratory waves, their formalwear,

    their gleeful feet
    stamping on a human face, forever.
    The only homo sapiens left in New Zealand,

    is an unsteady figure, intent
    on burglary, with failing visions
    of climbing through windows,

    Watch them pitch a small missile
    at an unsmiling wall,

    although it bounces back and
    hits them in the head
    over and over.

    This is our hero. A battler.

    1. Lol I like it – very dark and cynical of course. I especially love ‘the penguins will be the true masters/ Their constant migratory waves, their formalwear/ their gleeful feet/ stamping on a human face, forever’. and ‘This is our hero. A battler’.

  3. Gosh, words fail me. Maybe I should write a poem instead! You are really, really bent out of shape – racism lurks everywhere! If you are the future face of New Zealand, we are in very serious trouble indeed. Two questions –
    1) why the incredible vitriol towards Devoy? Did she say too many naughty things about Maori and Muslims, or is it because she was a sportswoman? (I’ll accept both with compelling, rational justification)
    2) Why do we need a RRC anyway? Is it just to make sure that people say and think the correct things? Aaaah…thought crime. Sounds Orwellian and Stalinist to me.

    Please give me articulate, compelling answers to my questions. Please feel free to correct my thinking and drag me back on to the right (that is , left, i guess…) track.

    1. Cliff, I am publishing your comment only because it astounds me that you could characterise me as being ‘really, really bent out of shape’ and as having ‘incredible vitriol’ towards Devoy. Did you read my poem? If you had stumbled across it, rather than reading it in the context of the Herald article, would you have interpreted it differently? Yes, I believe I am the future face of New Zealand. Yes, you may be in serious trouble. The accusation of requiring Orwellian thought crime is ironic. Orwell would love my poem, he would approve of citizens being able to publicly criticise the actions of the ruling government. I think what you are driving at though is a fear of authoritarian nationalism or fascism. Currently, would you say acts of authoritarian nationalism are more associated with the far left or the far right? Take these questions as rhetorical, I’m not interested in correcting your thinking. What interested me most in your comment was that after I (a Pacific woman) wrote a poem about racism based on my experience of living in New Zealand, you felt entitled to ask me to provide “articulate, compelling” answers to your questions. No, I don’t need answer your questions Cliff. Maybe you should write a poem, but I would never demand it from someone I had never met.

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