Ears on the Wall Syndrome: Louisa backs pacific islanders against the wall

9 August 2012

It has come to my attention that maybe I had wasted ink on paper last week writing about political wisdom. For one thing, it has not reached any part of Louisa Wall’s cerebral cells in dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage which has again dominated much Pacific Islanders’ discussions this week.

Dr Featuna'i Liua'ana and author of Ears on the Wall syndrome

Dr Featuna’i Liua’ana

The anger that is out there within our Pacific Islands communities has convinced me to comment on the issue again. It seems those with ‘ears on the wall syndrome’ could not help but be aghast at the report that the Labour Party MP, Louisa Wall, is confident she can turn Pacific Islanders to support her efforts in amending the Marriage Act that calls for marriage to be a union between two people regardless of their sex or gender, despite their strong opposition to it.

The reason why I am so astonished with such arrogance on the part of the Labour Party MP, is that, firstly, she is not listening to the individuals and collective voice of the various Pacific Island communities and, secondly, the MP in question seems to think Pacific Islanders are pushovers and could easily be persuaded to change their minds on an issue that cuts to the heart of every Pacific Island communities.

For me, it has a ‘superior complex’ ring around it; because for Louisa Wall to try, and even thinking about trying, to persuade Pacific Islanders to support such a bill, is an insult to Pacific Islanders intelligence and moral fibre. It sends a shiver down my neck when I think that such colonial arrogance still surfaces every now and then to remind us Pacific Islanders that others do the thinking for us, we just go with the flow and, in doing so, we are labelled intelligent. It is even harder to comprehend this kind of egotism when one considers that some of her colleagues had just commemorated 50 years of the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and one such Pacific Island, Samoa, whom her people in New Zealand, Louisa Wall sees fit to belittle with her opinions.

It is clear that Louisa Wall’s summation of our Pacific Islanders’ psyche in relation to her same-sex marriage is an attempt to push Pacific Islanders’ backs against the wall; depriving them the opportunity to express freely their own conscience without intimidation, distress, and temptation. I wonder if she is guilty of some kind of harassment. Anyway, I am very surprised that Louisa Wall had not gained some wisdom and moral direction from Su’a William Sio, who having distance himself from the same-sex marriage issue, has clearly illustrated to everyone debating the issue how Pacific Islanders’ hearts beat on such issues.

It is a clear message for all who are unaware of Pacific Islanders sentiments on such issue; something Louisa Wall clearly does not want to acknowledge as it will either expose her lack of intimacy with Pacific Islands’ communities, or her reluctance to back down to any intelligent public pressure. The fact that Louisa Wall is trying to change the moral mindset and turn the intellectual wisdom of the various Pacific Islands communities who are dead against her amending the Marriage Act to legitimise the narrow moral mindset of a few, is a kick in the gonads (excuse the pun) for all Pacific Islanders who not only put an ‘X’ next to her name during the last election but supported the Labour Party as a whole; and that is going to hurt, and it does hurt, and it will continue to hurt, not only the support base for Louisa Wall but the Pacific Islanders support for the Labour Party.

It is a pity that Louisa Wall does not have ‘ears on the wall syndrome’, because she would have heard the sniggering remarks among the Pacific Island communities that I am hearing, which probably reflect the same feeling not only among her own colleagues but among members of other political parties; it would have given her some wisdom, and reasons, to abandon her efforts. Surely, Louisa Wall does not think the non-Labour Party members supporting her bill are doing it because they share the same moral backbone as her, and that they applaud her as a champion on such issues? I think not! This is a classic example of being put on a pedestal with encouragement, but with much pretentiousness by her opponents.

Just think about it. John Key has said that he will support the first reading but may not vote for it when it is crunch time, and that is probably how this whole debacle will play out eventually (that is the hope and prayers of the majority). Meanwhile, it is providing some great moment of political mockery. I cannot help but see the humorous, and yet, a rather nasty side of politics in this whole tragedy. I have been rather captivated by the way the National Party and the other Non-Labour coalition MPs openly support Louisa Wall’s bill, then sit back and enjoy with much satisfaction the fruits of that support, as the New Zealand public give Louisa Wall and the Labour Party a good old verbal spanking; while the other MPs have a great old laugh at the lack of wisdom displayed by Labour Party MPs, and not to mention the degree of embarrassment experienced by every Labour Party supporter along the way.

And to make a mockery of the situation, Louisa Wall is the Labour MP for Manurewa, a constituency that is predominantly Pacific Islanders, and yet she is stubbornly holding on to a bill that even her constituency is telling her to put in the rubbish bin. Pacific Islanders do not like people they put into a position of power and responsibility and then use that position to promote their own agendas and not what the constituency prioritises. The Pacific churches around New Zealand have endorsed their parishioners’ stance on this issue and the repercussions will not be too kind to Louisa Wall, and to some extend to the Labour Party as a whole.

And yet, Louisa Wall has indicated there is no resistance from voters; it goes to show once again just how little she knows of Pacific Islanders. Sometimes silence does not mean support for a person but it is usually an indication of abhorrence. Louisa Wall and the Labour Party should not be fooled by the silence within the Pacific Islands communities; as there is plenty of noises being made in the churches and in the communities meeting places around New Zealand. Louisa Wall has also said she has written to all religious leaders in her constituency explaining that they will not be forced to perform gay marriages. How intelligent is this Labour MP? Louisa Wall does not get the gist of the protest by the Pacific Islanders’ Church Ministers and their congregations; the issue is not about performing or not performing gay marriages, but allowing same-sex marriages.

This is exactly the lack of respect for Pacific Islanders intelligence and moral fibre that I had mentioned earlier; Louisa Wall does not have any respect at all, or else she would have listened by now to the voice of solidarity against her bill. And once again, I cannot help but think that the National Party and its coalitions are ecstatic over the recent spats between the Labour Party MPs and their supporters, and there is no doubt in my mind, the National Party and its allies will do everything in their power to make sure that the debate on same-sex marriage continues, as it would not only deflect attention away from the issues facing the government, but it will continue to shake the foundation of the Labour Party.

It is not too late for the Labour Party to end this parody, and save face among its supporters; perhaps it is time for the Labour Party leader to show some leadership. Grant it, Louise Wall had good reasons for proposing her bill; she saw ‘good’ in it for a small minority of New Zealanders who wanted to legitimise their right to same-sex marriage; and according to Louisa Wall it is a bill that is fighting for a fundamental human right of every New Zealand citizen. But, if Louisa Wall truly believes she is fighting for all New Zealanders, then she must be blind, deaf, and out of touch with reality, for apart from her and a few supporters, not all New Zealanders want her to fight for this particular fundamental right, as she calls it, regarding same-sex marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud people who champion the rights of even the smallest of the minorities, and society need such champions.

However, champions are eventually role models for the ‘greater society’ (the majority of the people) to uphold moral etiquette that keeps societies and communities intact and functioning. Perhaps the real champions in this debate, are the ones that do not intimidate and force people against the wall to go against their conscience. Champions are people who are willing to come out of their comfort zone and stand for what is, at the end of the day, the ideal resolution for the greater good of the majority of the society.

So, let us salute, first of all, Su’a William Sio, for showing empathy with his Pacific Islands communities, and being true to himself and his own Pacific Island nurturing. It is hope that our other Pacific Islands’ MPs in the Labour Party and other Parties, will have the courage to exercise the same identification with their Pacific Islands communities without intimidation, distress, and temptation. But, most of all, let us salute the MPs who have not hesitated from the beginning to show their distaste for Louisa Wall’s bill, especially Colin W. Bull of the National Party, and Winston Peters and the New Zealand First Party, although I would love to see Winston Peters and his MPs participate in the voting process if it is needed.

But, if by some miracle the amendment to the Marriage Act passes through parliament (a most horrible thought indeed), one thing is for sure, and that is the Labour Party has signed its own death warrant, at least among the Pacific Islanders. And finally, the solidarity and prayers of our Pacific Islands’ communities is ever so important at this time, and so I remind our readers once again that despite being shoved against the wall time and time again in recent times by our politicians, let us not forget, we are a proud nation with a strong moral backbone; so continue to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into…Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.



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