Self acclaimed orator “part jester, part genius”

No one seems to rate Shane Jones’ oratory skills more than Jones he calls himself “part jester, part genius”. I’ve never warmed to his style but the media give him plenty of attention.

NZH: Parliament’s orator Shane Jones: ‘I wanted to be like Cicero … then I realised he was executed’

He’s known for his florid language and is dubbed in some circles as the Cryptic Crossword, but New Zealand First MP Shane Jones is proud of his mastery of the English language, and a linguistics expert says he should be.

“When I was at St Stephen’s I won the prize for not only Maori oratory but I got the first prize for several years for English. When I finished St Stephen’s School in 1977 I won the Maori and Polynesian scholarship to help me at Auckland University in 1978. My pakeha nana bought me a massive dictionary and she said to me ‘now you’re at university, start ploughing that’. It was a dictionary with synonyms.”

But Jones really got serious about language when he met former Labour prime minister David Lange, a politician famed for his oration skills and a master of wit.

“Lange told me a lot of his style of oratory was refined on the back of watching and learning from the Methodist preachers who preached on the side of the road in England amidst all sorts of distractions. But they knew how to hold a crowd,” Jones said.

I thought that Lange usually spoke very well, but Jones tries to be too clever.

Jones said the Speaker of the House would have intervened if he thought he wasn’t giving serious answers to parliamentary questions.

“I don’t think he would tolerate me using artful language to undermine my obligations as a minister in the House.

“You could say some of my answers are a bit like an epigram, a bit like a crossword puzzle. As long as I address the question I don’t need to fully answer the questions,” Jones said.

And as if to illustrate the point, in answer to a question on how seriously he took his position, Jones softly replied: “I am a child of the provinces, made of both earth and fire.”

Asked if he sometimes thought that his stringing together of a lot of multi-syllabic words resulted in a nonsensical sentence, Jones said “language was about everyday life . “Some of what we do in everyday life are bloopers”.

Jones on song (discordant to me) in Parliament on Thursday:

Question No. 12—Regional Economic Development

12. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by all of his statements in regards to the Provincial Growth Fund; if so, will he guarantee that none of the projects funded will have outcomes considered “fanciful”?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): To the first part of the question, yes; and in so far as the word “fanciful” is used, it’s been misapplied in a form that’s inversely related to my ministerial temperament.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does it comply with the Standing Orders to answer in riddles?

Mr SPEAKER: And it’s part of the responsibility of the Opposition to solve them.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he said last week, “I realise that we have the Westminster system. After the next election, if I don’t get what I want, we’re going to have the Axminister system.”, who specifically was he threatening?

Hon SHANE JONES: In the life of the first citizen of the provinces, there is great hyperbole and theatrical language from time to time.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think threatening officials is a laughing matter?

Hon SHANE JONES: Both officials and members of the House are aware of how seriously I take my role as New Zealand’s first citizen of the provinces. So, from time to time, the member is reading far too much into the language of a colourful, hard-working, rhetorical advocate.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does the Minister think that the Cabinet Manual, specifically paragraph 3.22(f), which says, “Ministers should exercise a professional approach and good judgement in their interactions with officials. Ministers must respect the political neutrality of the public service …”, applies to him?

Hon SHANE JONES: In deference to the Cabinet Manual, I can assure you, unlike other parts of my life, I express and practise great fidelity.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he said, in relation to the Wairoa mayor, “I felt pretty stink that I, as the provincial champion, couldn’t even deliver for him.”, how much did he think the responsibility for the lack of delivery lay with him?

Hon SHANE JONES: When I met with the Mayor of Wairoa, he described me as the first Minister since the days of Helen Clark to have ever shown that quality of affection and attention to Wairoa.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is he aware that there is a fine line between being a bit of a character and being a joke, and which side of the line is he?

Hon SHANE JONES: I could not describe it better than the New Zealand Herald, who have described me as part jester, part genius, and in 2020 they’ll see the latter and not the former.

That sounds like taking the piss of Parliament.



  1. Gezza

     /  May 5, 2018

    He blithers pompous-sounding irrelevant dribble quite often. Personally, I think it makes him sound egotistical, dense, a time-waster, & look like a bloody clown who isn’t there so much to do a job on behalf of his constituents as to entertain himself.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  May 5, 2018

      Prepare to be impressed; I was reading at three and reading Dickens when I was seven. I could go on, but will refrain.Nobody likes a showoff.

      A child of earth and fire, whose answers are like a crossword puzzle ? What pretentious drivel.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 5, 2018

        Who on earth describes their own words as epigrams ? Spare us.He certainly ‘has a good conceit of himself’.

    • artcroft

       /  May 5, 2018


  2. Blazer

     /  May 5, 2018

    I wasn’t sure whether I like his creative dialogue or not.Now with all the right wing denigation..I think..I do.

  3. david in aus

     /  May 5, 2018

    The purpose of oratory is to persuade and to make connections. Shane Jones’ speeches confuse the listener and give the impression that the speaker is in love with his own voice and not with them.

    Winston Churchill once apologised for not making his speech shorter because he did not have the time. Editing and carefully choosing one’s words are more important than the volume.

    Shane Jones, less-is-more, especially from you. When you have a choice of using simple direct powerful words, use them. Having a thesaurus doesn’t mean you should try to use every word.

  4. PDB

     /  May 5, 2018

    Part wanker – credit card misuse proved that.

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 5, 2018

    Lange’s jokes were funny. Jones seems to have missed that lesson.

    • Gezza

       /  May 5, 2018

      Even Lange ended his career as a pompous travelling windbag making excuses & blaming others for his shortcomings.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  May 5, 2018

        Lange’s politics were useless. His wit as a frontman was his only suit.

      • Blazer

         /  May 6, 2018

        that is rather harsh…and hard to validate.

  6. Zedd

     /  May 6, 2018

    There is something about Mr Jones’ demeanor.. that makes me thinks, its all about Mr Jones; politics is the vehicle, for him to get there ?

    • Zedd

       /  May 6, 2018

      interestingly they overlooked; Jones, Mark & Ms Martin & gave Mr Tabuteau the deputy leader role of NZF :/