John Key puts NZ artists in their place

By Toby Manhire In The Internaut

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9th January, 2012 2 comments

He may not quite be John Keats, but the New Zealand prime minister is an able self-parodist.

In a written endorsement for something called the New Zealand Literary Heritage Trail, which appears to be a pet project of the Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt (don’t know how far he got with it – he mentions it in this ODT piece from 2009), Key puts the role of New Zealand art and culture in its national context.

I have always believed we should enhance the literary skills of our young people and while our literary heroes may never challenge the glory and respect given to our All Blacks, we still need role models to inspire us.

This Literary Heritage Trail celebrates writers, poets and playwrights who have contributed to this young country’s cultural and historical life.

I hope you will take the opportunity to be part of this journey.


– Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

We have @theedrich to thank for bringing this affecting endorsement – which she assures us appears authentic in every way – to our attention on Twitter. She even took a photograph of the booklet, found in a Rotorua information centre:

As Giovanni Tiso points out on Twitter, the only appropriate response to Key’s words is to be found in a 1995 John Clarke/Fred Dagg sketch.

And lest we forget, Mr Key does show poetic potential. Has a New Zealand prime minister ever ad-libbed a more bewitching almost-haiku than this, from the election campaign:

The thing I know that matters

to New Zealanders is the issues

that really matter

(Update: Danyl has posted on this little gem at the Dim-Post.)

h/t @milkshakebot

More by Toby Manhire

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2 Responses to “John Key puts NZ artists in their place”

  1. Gem Claire Jan 14 2012, 4:24pm

    Hi Toby

    Thank you for this great article. What a bizarre backhanded compliment from Key!

    You inspired my latest blog post -
    Report Report
  2. Sonja Carlile Jan 10 2012, 7:23pm

    It has made my day to read the Prime Minister's statement. Firstly because I am an artist and secondly, Art is such an important activity in a nation. The only way that we can learn about the ancients is through their Art that has survived through thousands of years. What a sad day it would be if we left nothing behind for the future generations.

    Thank you Mr Key and thank you for publishing his statements.
    Report Report

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