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Yesterdaze: Foolish, and not just for April – Newsroom

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Had Team NZ announced their decision today it would have been lauded as a brilliant April Fools’ hoax. Photo: ACEA 2017/Gilles Martin-Raget
James Elliott is a lawyer and contributing writer to Newsroom. Email him at [email protected]
Comment
Team NZ relying on the infrastructure of a city that’s been building a church for 140 years  – and Transmission Gully opening two days earlier than it should have  – are the real jokes this week, writes James Elliott
It pains me to report that April Fools’ Day has been cancelled. Not just for today, but permanently. Unfortunately we live in an age where the news cycle is so dominated by misspeaking, misstepping and misinforming that it’s no longer possible to differentiate between comedy, prank and hoax and the reality of daily life. News of this cancellation will come as a particular blow to the good people of Malta – Maltesers – the only populace in the world that recognises April Fools’ as a national holiday.
It’s a farewell tinged with sadness because April Fools’ Day has a proud tradition. For example, the Polish Anti-Turkish alliance with Leopold I was signed on April 1, 1863 and then backdated to March 31 lest it were thought to be a hoax. The Turks thought that was delightfully funny resulting in the first recorded instance of Turkish delight.
If there was ever a construction project that should have been officially opened on April Fools’ Day it’s Transmission Gully, given every previously announced opening date was a joke.
In any event, since 1863 it’s been recognised that it’s never a good idea to make a genuine news announcement on the 1st of April. This explains why Team New Zealand announced earlier in the week that Barcelona will be the host city for the next edition of the Americas Cup in 2024. Had that decision been announced today it would have been lauded as a brilliant April Fools’ hoax, based on the hilarious assumption that Barcelona is capable of building the infrastructure necessary to host the America’s Cup between now and September 2024. Barcelona is, after all, the city that still hasn’t finished a cathedral they started building in 1882.    
A hundred and forty years and still counting is a construction timeline familiar to those who have been waiting for the opening of Transmission Gully, a road first mooted by Ōtaki MP William Field in 1919. Sir John Key, as he then wasn’t, turned the first sod on the project in September 2014, an appropriately symbolic act given that sod all seemed to happen after that. And so, seven and a bit years and a deluge of delays later it was deeply ironic that Transmission Gully was officially opened this week on Wednesday the 30th, two days earlier than it should have been. Because if there was ever a construction project that should have been officially opened on April Fools’ Day it’s Transmission Gully, given every previously announced opening date was a joke. And by previously announced joke opening dates I’m referring to May 2020, November 2020, September 2021, Christmas Day 2021 and February 2022.      
I find David Seymour’s opinions to be interesting and original in the same way that I find my nephew’s finger paintings to be interesting and original.
Had he lived to be 161, William Field would have been thrilled to see his vision for connecting central Wellington with the coastal plain of the Manawatū brought to life, albeit with some loose chipseal, deferred safety and quality and assurance tests, and spotty cellphone coverage. As it is, William Field’s roading reverie can bask for eternity in the praise of the Evening Post from 7 June 1919:
“Mr Field’s opinions are interesting, and even those who may not endorse them will probably rejoice to find a member of Parliament who is prepared to propose original ideas on a subject so vital to the public interest.”
It’s a standout quote. I wonder whether the Evening Post ever felt the same about another MP’s opinions. Somehow I doubt it – rejoicing to find a member of Parliament prepared to propose interesting and original ideas is a high bar indeed.
Which brings me to David Seymour. I find his opinions to be interesting and original in the same way that I find my nephew’s finger paintings to be interesting and original. But that’s just me, you may well have a more negative view.
David Seymour gave a speech at Milford Rotary recently calling for a referendum on co-governance arrangements with Māori at the next election. Now I should just mention as an aside that the last time I referred to Rotary in this column I posed a question of an existential nature about Rotary, causing them to prove their existence by writing to me in a manner that was the opposite of whatever rejoicing is. So, just for the record, Rotary exists and they do good works, but it’s debatable as to whether having David Seymour speak to them is a good example of that.
This week David Seymour pumped a bit more hot air into Act’s race-baiting balloon, describing the parameters of a proposed “Treaty Principles Act” that will follow the co-governance referendum if passed. He was interviewed by Mihingarangi Forbes on The Hui about his thinking on Māori co-governance and the place of The Treaty in our constitutional framework – a subject, to quote the Evening Post, “vital to the public interest”. So vital to the public interest that Seymour was asked (about seven minutes into the interview if you’re so minded) the vital question as to which Māori Treaty experts he had consulted over his proposed plans for Māori co-governance and The Treaty.
His answer – none.          
Now that’s pretty foolish, and not just for April.          
Have a peaceful weekend.  
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