Title: Review: Diversity without depth on State of the Family Credit: Craig Young Comment Thursday 23rd September 2004 - 12:00pm1095897600 Article: 427 Rights
Last night TVNZ screened a debate entitled State of the Family, which is to be commended for its pluralist and inclusive stance toward New Zealand families in all their varieties. It was great that the assembled medical and social scientific professionals defended family diversity, and that we heard from solo mums, Maori whanau, Samoan aiga and politicians across the political and family diversity spectrum. I agreed particularly when Maori and Samoan participants brought up the issue of economic discrimination as an issue of relevance to their families, and I don't blame them at all for feeling short-changed, due to the limits of the debate format. Let me say that I think that the state of Maori and Samoan families deserves detailed attention, and that the documentary genre would best suit their interests. I'm sure I'm not the only pakeha who'd like to know how poverty, institutional racism, colonialism, migration and monocultural family and housing policies have affected Maori, Samoan and other Pasifika whanau and aiga. As well as that, it would be similarly instructive to learn how Tariana Turia feels about takatapui involvement in whangai, the venerable Maori institution of informal whanau adoption. And thank you, Tariana, for challenging Richard Lewis (Destiny New Zealand) over his remarks about the Civil Union Bill. It was also good to see Chris Carter's validation of solo mums, as my own sister is one. However, I feel that the documentary genre would be more appropriate to focus on mythology and rebuttals related to solo parenting within the full spectrum of family diversity. Unfortunately, the debate format tended to sideline detailed focuses on any of the variant family models presented. It was interesting to see Peter Dunne (United Future) and Greg Fleming (the Maxim Institute) on best behaviour, although it would've been interesting to have had a chance to investigate Maxim's claims about the status of same-sex parenting and families in more detail. Richard Lewis (Destiny New Zealand) cut a lonely figure as the token Christian Right extremist who didn't finess. It was also interesting that only the older married couple seemed to agree with him, but I wonder how doting grandparents of children born to same-sex-led families would have responded. In short, I think the debate format sabotaged the laudable pluralist intentions of the debate presenters. Yes, it represented the diversity of New Zealand families, but failed to do so in sufficient depth, in any case. So, what about it, TV3, TVNZ and Maori Television? Or, for that matter, New Zealand On Air and Te Mangai Paho? Given that the documentary genre would be better suited to analysis of the diversity of New Zealand families, let's fund a series that investigates those myths and realities. Craig Young - 23rd September 2004    
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