I was invited by a mate to a special church service the other evening. It was an evangelical/pentecostal church, predominantly Pacific Islander. It was a branch of a church based in the U S of A.
That night, the sermon was preached by a Pastor from the States. He commented how there’s a scene on Sione’s Wedding where there is a Palagi guy, Derek from “G-g-g-Gfield” (Glenfield on the North Shore is a affluent part of Auckland/Aukilani), acts like a “gee”.
He’s a very funny character in the movie, and everyone in the crowd laughed, thinking about how hilarous it is to see a Palagi trying to act all hip-hop, down with the brown, a real “gee”. But then the Pastor said, “It’s funny you laugh, because that’s exactly how I reacted when I saw a lot of youths here in Auckland trying to act all gansta”.
A reflective pause from the crowd hit home the comparison.
South Auckland has become synonymous with crime and poverty to many New Zealanders (read Palagi). It is the ‘ghetto’, the eye-sore that middle New Zealand (read Palagis) can drive past on the highway and not think about. It’s that part of town that people (read Palagis) are too scared to venture through. It becomes the political scapegoat at every national election. It is held up as the consequences of lawlessness and moral corruption. It’s where there are never enough cops and never enough prisons. It’s the “bad” side of town, the other side of the tracks that parent’s fear to let their children go.
Yet hardly any (if any at all) of these New Zealanders who espouse these perceptions of South Auckland, have ever stayed in South Auckland. Parachute reporting does injustice to the real South Auckland. Talk back radio is full of people who have ‘friends’ who have been to South Auckland, but never themselves…