The Government has seen fit to give Helen Clark the Order of New Zealand, supposedly our highest honour, replacing Edmund Hillary on the list. I suppose on the basis of her tenure she deserves an honour as much as any other politician but I think there is something very unsavoury about giving such a polarising politician our highest award.
Actually, I find the whole honours system very unsavoury. The idea that you receive an award from the Government - who are, after all, meant to be serving us not the other way around - seems very feudal to me.
They also chose to give Peter Jackson a knighthood. Again, I guess he deserves it as much as any New Zealander. But it doesn't add anything to his accomplishments, which I think stand on their own merits. He doesn't need the 'Sir' to tell the world how successful he has been.
The honours systems brings the republican debate into focus. Keith Locke, with whom I wouldn't normally agree on anything, wrote a piece in The Bin Liner (otherwise known as The Dominion Post) the other day, in support of New Zealand becoming a republic. While I have my doubts about what sort of republic the likes of Keith Locke would turn New Zealand into, I whole-hearted support his sentiment.
The one thing that makes me a republican is the idea that my children cannot grow up to be head of state of New Zealand because that role is inherited by the eldest son in a family twenty thousand kilometres away. In America, every child is taught at school that they can aspire to be the President. In New Zealand, we cannot teach our children that. We believe our own children are not good enough to be our head of state. The only ones who are, under our constitutional conventions, are the descendants of a corrupt, despotic, incestuous family in Britain. I find this situation offensive.