I had to take a little bit of time to consider whether or not I was over-reacting to his ‘darkies’ comment. I knew that there would be a suggestion from the general public that our country has just become far to PC and overly sensitive and I didn’t want to jump the gun on it but…after thinking about it – Andy Haden you made a huge mistake and it’s not ok.
I don’t know what the general expectation is from the public but if they think us PI’s should just smile and laugh when we are called ‘darky’, ‘booga’, ‘coconut’ – then sorry but in this instance maybe some of us don’t don’t feel like being the ‘jovial’ Pacific Islanders.
There is of course friendly banter that takes place amongst PI and with non-PI friends and family – but that only works when there is a trust between those involved in the exchange. If the context isn’t right and/ or the person isn’t trusted, then it quickly becomes patronising and offensive. Andy Haden might have a few close PI mates that he can use terms like ‘darkies’ with – they probably don’t have a problem with it. But the problem when you use a term like this publicly, is that the rest of us don’t have a friendship/ relationship with you and therefore our suspicions are aroused immediately and offence is naturally taken.
The expectation from some corners that Andy Haden lose his position as Ambassador were fair. He demonstrated an inability to live up to fairly reasonable expectations when he used a term which in this day and age, is unacceptable. It’s not just about offending a fairly large group of people in NZ but its also about his wisdom with regards to knowing what is appropriate and what is not.