Indigenous | Politics

Could you date or marry someone who won’t say the word ‘Aotearoa’?


This election might just be a relationship killer.

A Washington Post editorial has suggested that politics might be getting in the way of finding love – or marriage, anyway.

It is based on a couple of surveys – the first suggesting female Gen Z (aged roughly 11 to mid-20s) in the US are getting more liberal, and more feminist; while male Gen Z are getting more conservative and lagging in the feminist stakes too.

The second survey suggested that 71% of liberal Gen Z didn’t want to date Republican-supporting people. (No mention is made in the editorial of LGBTQIA+ people.)

In a nation where the right now seems to score maximum political points by inflicting pain on liberals, it is unsurprising lefties won’t touch them with a barge pole. (FYI the opposite isn’t true, righties still want to get with the left.)

The editorial suggests future people (most likely women I’m guessing) might have to overlook such political differences for institutions like marriage to survive.

(from left) Act leader David Seymour, National leader Chris Luxon and NZ First leader Winston Peters

I normally don’t think this sort of thing applies in Aotearoa but I’m starting to wonder. It’s not that we have the most far-right government in decades. It’s mostly that political farce has finally, belatedly, washed up on our shores like a barrel of rotting lard.

Somewhere as I write this, a public servant is wondering how to discreetly rip down their department’s sign from some Wellington street – to replace it with approved language names. That person will be wondering how much it might cost to get that “nau mai, haere mai” etched on their glass doors removed before the minister arrives. Perhaps they could just alter it, “nautilus maize”; “haematoma”?, like someone getting their Jesus Jones tattoo adjusted to ‘sus nes’ – nonsensical but sophisticated-sounding too.

Our public service is getting Māorexited. An idiotic sham – an ultimately self-defeating severing of ties with te reo, with Te Tiriti, based entirely on the ever-thinning skin of a chunk of the population.

Who on the left will want to date those people?

Stats NZ data to 2021 shows fewer people getting married but fewer of those marriages ending in divorce. People were perhaps getting pickier before tying the knot anyway. Now there’s a new passion-killer – that pic of Luxon, Peters and Seymour signing a coalition ménage à trois.

Could you imagine dating, settling down, having children with someone who supports removing te reo Māori names from government departments, out of, I dunno, pure spite? Someone unfazed at having smoking magically rejuvenated (completely out of the blue, like some wonderful surprise hamper of emphysema).

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you can find love and a successful relationship even if your beliefs align. But really, who wants to spend their life with someone stuck in some weird twilight world of resentment?

Do we really envision a future watching hubby waving a plastic spork of coleslaw at the family barbecue, as he holds forth, raging, raging against the dying of the light of Pākehā authority?

Can you form a loving attachment in Aotearoa to someone who refuses to actually say the word Aotearoa?

The fact is, we are stuck together here – whether you want to say the word or not: We are an apocalyptically vast distance from the rest of the world. Perhaps in the past we were encouraged to just take what was on offer, regardless of quality. But in my opinion, institutions like marriage were never more important than happiness.

I am personally heartened, encouraged, by the survey results underpinning the editorial.

The older generations might want to kill off youth with tobacco, climate change; by stifling indigeneity.

But love has never been stronger.

Joel Maxwell is a senior writer with Stuff’s Pou Tiaki team.