Overreaction to criticism of Maori version of awful anthem

Someone said something stupid about the Maori version of the New Zealand National Anthem on Facebook – stupid things on Facebook are common.

But this was from a city councillor from New Plymouth, Murray Chong, who responded to a post asking “”name a song you are ashamed of singing” with:

“The te reo version of the NZ national anthem”.

That got some media attention – New Plymouth councillor labels Māori version of national anthem a tune he is ‘ashamed to sing’.

Dr Andy Asquith, a Massey University senior lecturer and commentator on local government issues, said in his opinion it was not about politics but about responsibility and recognising that the country has two languages.

“I’m just astounded at the insensitivity of it to be honest,” he said.

“We’re now in an election year so this could well be part of an attempt to build up a profile.”

It could just as easily be a throw away line on Facebook that has nothing to do with the election.

More people started to make a big deal out of what looks to me like a fairly trivial comment in social media.

Stuff:  More than 1500 join call for anthem ‘shame’ councillor to quit

New Plymouth councillor Murray Chong is facing a barrage of criticism, has been censured by his mayor and there’s even a petition calling on him to resign for saying he was ashamed to sing the national anthem in te reo.

New Zealander of the Year for 2014, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, weighed in on the controversy with a scathing social media post on Tuesday that the incident “goes to show that USA is not the only country that is capable of electing idiots to public office”.

He has also been censured by his mayor Neil Holdom, who had already censured the councillor last month for proclaiming on radio he had no issue flying a Confederate flag during Taranaki’s Americarna car festival.

Chong’s track record has been slammed as “despicable” by political commentator Dr Andy Asquith and a petition calling for the councillor to resign had gathered 1550 signatures in 24 hours.

Another bloody petition calling on someone to resign.

Politicians are elected. They should only resign in extraordinary circumstances, not because a few people call for it in a petition. Elections are the normal (and democratic) way of dealing with politicians.

Editorial (Stuff): Councillor’s shame at singing anthem in Māori demands explanation

If New Plymouth District Councillor Murray Chong chooses not to sing the national anthem in Māori, that is his choice. 

And it is a legitimate one. It would be a terrifying day indeed if there were ever a law that made the singing of a national anthem compulsory

The issue with Chong’s latest controversial Facebook post, this time about our national anthem, is that he is ashamed to sing it in te reo.

Such sentiment demands explanation.

Does it?

He’s ashamed, he explains, because the original version was in English and if we are “forced” to sing it in two languages then we should also perform the haka in two languages.

I think that’s pathetic reasoning, but can’t we just make up our own minds what we think?

Chong’s attitude to te reo is concerning in a multi-cultural nation but it’s not out of step with thousands of others who view the language’s growing presence as something “forced” on them.

That attitude is not going to change over night. There will be some, many thousands, who will hold that position no matter what. And these people will see Chong as one person “brave” enough to speak the truth.

But we should hope that there are many more thousands who will at least be open to learning about why te reo is so integral to this country’s past, present and future.

Chong’s social media behaviour does nothing to advance such an openness and it is disappointing the councillor appears content to continually act in a way that divides rather than unites.

Because even though it’s a tired cliche, it’s as true now as ever that united we stand and divided we fall.

We should be compelled to be united in expressing love and admiration for both versions of the anthem?

After the barrage Chong apologised. RNZ: New Plymouth councillor Murray Chong apologises for te reo Māori anthem comments

In a written statement, Mr Chong said he stood by his election promise of “saying it like I see it” and wanted to encourage constructive discussion on matters important to ratepayers.

He said he wanted to make clear his views did not represent his fellow councillors or the council.

Mr Chong has previously described te reo Māori as a dying language and has been censured twice before for race-based comments.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom yesterday said he had given Mr Chong an official telling off, but would not say what the censure would mean in practice or how often a councillor could be censured before further action would be taken.

Only in the Internet age would this sort of nonsense make national news. And the ease of starting a petition is making a farce of them.

I have often said I don’t like the original (English) version  of our anthem. It’s often a non-uplifting dirge (sometimes it is sung ok).

I think that the God-laden lyrics are embarrassing for a national anthem, especially in a secular country the 21st century.

I don’t sing it because of the lyrics, and because I would be embarrassed for anyone to hear my monotonic mangling. I don’t sing the Maori version  for the same reasons.

But I actually prefer hearing the Maori version. The te reo sounds far less bombastic and dated – and i can pretend I don’t understand what it means.




  1. Corky

     /  17th January 2019

    Murray CHONG! Not a moniker you want if you are going to comment on something that has racial connotations.

    ”New Zealander of the Year for 2014, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, weighed in on the controversy with a scathing social media post on Tuesday that the incident “goes to show that USA is not the only country that is capable of electing idiots to public.”

    This from a gadfly doctor more interested in his public profile than palpating patients. He’d fit in well with the Hollywood set.

    Now there’s a petition from gormless morons calling on Chong to resign as a councillor.

    Mr Chong then apologises.😄

    This is the only thing Chong has right :

    ”Mr Chong previously described te reo Māori as a dying language and has been censured twice before for race-based comments.”

    They used to call this the ‘silly season.’ Now that season lasts all year.

  2. FarmerPete

     /  17th January 2019

    I detest our anthem, because it is a dirge and musically, has nothing going for it.

    • Missy

       /  17th January 2019

      It was written as a hymn. I like it, it especially sounds great when sung by a full Westminster Cathedral in full voice.

  3. Blazer

     /  17th January 2019

    Mr Chong has a Chinese sounding surname.

    • Pickled Possum

       /  17th January 2019

      but he doesn’t look Chinese … I wonder which part of him is?

      • Corky

         /  17th January 2019

        Certainly not his mouth. A Chinese mouth would know ‘yang’ breath not tempered with ‘yin’
        mediation would bring bad issues…. and a Face Book petition.

    • thespectrum

       /  17th January 2019

      Really? I thought Chong was Icelandic?

  4. david in aus

     /  17th January 2019

    Do many people know the Maori words to the national anthem? I don’t. I find hard to remember words of an unfamiliar language. I have a better knowledge of the spoof version: “God of Nations smell my feet…..”

    Most people, I suspect, mumble through Maori verses. Ashamed? No, just can’t be bothered.

    • Missy

       /  17th January 2019

      I do. I learnt it in the 1980’s when in the school choir, also learnt God Save the Queen at the same time.

      And recently I have learnt a verse or two and the chorus of Whaakaria Mai.

      I can’t speak Te Reo, in fact I know more Romanian than Te Reo, but I do find it easy to sing.

      • david in aus

         /  17th January 2019

        I guess you know the tune.

      • Gezza

         /  17th January 2019

        Most school kids I come across know the Maori words; they don’t seem to have any problem with it – it’s a few parents who do. Interesting to hear Maori described as a dying language when it’s been frequently reported over the last year that there is a severe shortage of Maori language teachers – and they are currently unable to meet the demand.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  17th January 2019

    Crikey, is this the same New Plymouth that ousted its Mayor for acknowledging institutional racism and wanting better Maori representation?

    They favour everyday racism-lite it appears?

    Neither Chong’s surname nor his ‘ethnicity’ has anything whatever to do with it, provided he’s a citizen. He might be a fourth or fifth generation New Zealander for all we know.

    Our National Anthem’s existing tune could easily be ‘jazzed up’ by a talented musical arranger. The words have a certain power to them, albeit Christian hymnal-like, especially the Te Reo words …

    • thespectrum

       /  17th January 2019

      Taranaki has long been the most red neck province
      of New Zealand followed closely by Waikato.
      SJW’s and progressives rarely stray into
      the Taranaki even fewer make it out alive.
      I went to some of the the 1981 Springbok games to assess the protests myself.
      The Taranaki game followed the cancelled Waikato game.
      There were few protesters as Taranaki was totally pro rugby and pro Apartheid.
      But with a large student protest looming at the Manawatu game at
      the showgrounds the army erected two rows of ten foot high razor edged barbed wire.
      The irony of the Springboks being penned in a barbed wire cage
      was not lost on journo’s and their folks back home.
      Wanganui was the 3rd game in 8 days for me.
      Assessed as low risk appropriately a silent protest was held.
      I watched the Boks practice and you could clearly hear the Afrikaans being spoken .
      Yes and I saw the token black man Errol Tobias.
      I wonder what he made of it all.

  6. Pickled Possum

     /  17th January 2019

    who cares what Mr Chong thinks it is a free speech country after all.
    I will not sing it in French either

    • Blazer

       /  17th January 2019

      did you ever sing’ freres jaques’ at school?

      • PartisanZ

         /  17th January 2019

        My fave was “We’re the men from Sussex” … Yes, it’s true, at Model Country School in Epsom in the 1960s …

        I don’t know why I resisted even then? But instead of the formal words, I used to sing –

        “Coz we’re the men from buttocks … Buttocks by the Sea
        We plough and mow and reap and sow and useless men are we”

    • Pickled Possum

       /  17th January 2019

      yes I did because I took French and I did kapa haka at the same time. your.

  7. thespectrum

     /  17th January 2019

    God of Nations apart from the God references is a decent anthem. All they need do is add a breathing space between verse and chorus as the key goes up and many are caught out. The Maori verse is easier to sing than the English version actually as the words all vowel ending flow more easily. White New Zealanders generally do not have a natural musical expression and need to be coaxed to sing and the dirge like National Anthem singing is more from the discomfort white people have in public singing cf the drone of the Lords Prayer we all ground through in school back in the 60’s/70’s. The old saying “kiwis are two whisky’s short” comes to mind. Polynesians and many immigrant cultures are more musically inclined the Tongan singing in last years rugby league world cup was one outstanding example of New Zealand Polynesian singing

    • Gezza

       /  17th January 2019

      It is a very good, melodic tune as anthems go. One only has to listen to other countries’ anthems when they are played by bands without singing at international sports events to see how good it is.

      Some of them are horrible cacophonies that make one wince and don’t work well with a Western-style band.

  8. thespectrum

     /  17th January 2019

    Males have written nearly all national anthems. Unsurprisingly many are about war. The USA anthem is about war and is nigh impossible to sing Roseanne Bars version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru2BYd3c90w is fantastic Borats version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePQ9_re7f1A is amazing too. La Marseillaise is a great tune but you guessed it about war. Australia + Canada have fantastic modern anthems Scotland and the new Irish anthem are fine. Italy has a top class anthem which I actually transposed into a anthem/haka.

  9. thespectrum

     /  17th January 2019

    Personally like the flag debate I have long been indifferent to flag and anthem. Neither represents me in the way I would like and would prefer no flag and no anthem..
    Flags and anthems are not necessary and are often more divisive than unifying.
    Former Prime Minister John Key when announcing the flag review also told NZ about his preferred design and 3 out of the final 4 flag designs were carbon copies of his choice. The 4th choice Maori design was pure tokenism as it received less than 0.0001 % of the vote. That totally turned me off any idea of a new flag and I prefer no flag to one foisted on me by the White Prime Minister or any celebrity abusing his/her power and privilege.

  10. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th January 2019

    Storm meets teacup. The perpetually offensive indulging the eternally offended.

    • thespectrum

       /  17th January 2019

      Or avoid the issue because you are afraid of it.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  17th January 2019

        Because I’m a shrinking violet?

        • thespectrum

           /  17th January 2019

          C’mon Allan wheres that razor edged mind of yours today. You seem too quiet to relaxed. You are barely responding to issues. We expect more!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  17th January 2019

            Too busy. Climbed a hill with the dogs checking a long fence line I have to repair, now travelling to pick up a car from garage and then getting fencing and more bits for a house I’m helping to renovate.

          • Gezza

             /  17th January 2019

            I can see where Alan’s coming from. Most people just don’t care, & would just shake their heads at Chong creating an unnecessary fuss about a non-issue.

  11. The Consultant

     /  18th January 2019

    Probably the only time I’ll ever have sympathy for Vladimir Putin as he faces possibly the worst fucking rendition of the Russian National Anthem ever, in this case by an Egyptian military band. If you can hack listening to whole thing, watching his face is priceless.

  1. Overreaction to criticism of Maori version of awful anthem — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition