Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

NZAF BOARD: are proposals PC madness or PC maturity?

Sat 25 Jun 2005 In: HIV

Before I commence this article I would like to explain to those people who have questioned my intentions as to why I am challenging the AIDS Foundation Board over the already approved constitutional changes when I am a life member, ex-chairman and are presently working with the organisation on a major fundraiser. I have always fully respected and supported the work of the AIDS Foundation and will do so in the future. Based on our past, present and future working relationship, I am aware that discussion like this is healthy and I trust that the Foundation is fully aware that I am not attacking them or any one individual within the organisation. The AIDS Foundation was established to represent the community, therefore open discussion and forum is part of the transparent process. Prior to leaving New Zealand but even more predominantly since my departure in February, I have realised that New Zealand is starting to move into an era of what I have termed ‘PC madness.' A time where you can not open your mouth, look at someone for more than 5 seconds or write a short article without offending someone or being told that you are not respecting the Treaty of Waitangi. A typical example of this was last year's production of Queen of the Whole Pacific which I produced. I wrote a tongue in cheek script looking at the funnier side of ALL cultures living in New Zealand and was accused by one person in an audience of 800 of being non-PC towards Asians. The Asian boys in the show thought it was humorous and were not offended. Surely if we are not able to laugh at ourselves it has come to a very sad situation. We all think or have been encouraged to think that being PC is good for New Zealand and its people. Maybe this is correct however it is now time to take a more mature view, stand back and ask a few key questions before we implement policy and procedures just to be politically correct. We have all lived in a PC environment for some years so are now experienced and adult enough to be able to make a decision on whether being PC would be an advantage or disadvantage to that organisation. Any organisation that has considered these advantages or disadvantages as far as I am concerned is being political correct. This is what I refer to as 'PC maturity'. Naturally I am not referring to or condoning abusive language or derogatory comments about someone's colour, sexual orientation, race, disability, etc., but am referring more to the issue of quota. Since writing the article about the proposed NZAF Board changes which I submitted to the board and was subsequently published on (Thursday 9 June 2005) I have been inundated with messages of support. However it does appear that a number of people, NZAF staff and non-staff included, are reluctant to address the PC issue, the basis of the proposed Board changes. The fact people are scared about voicing their comments on this delicate subject is an example where we are still nervous of this issue rather than saying "I have now reached a stage of PC maturity and will challenge any changes that are detrimental to the running of the organisation". As more and more discussion develops about the proposed NZAF Board changes and the justification behind the changes, the more concerns I have. Firstly, I was always of the understanding that a board structure should comprise an uneven number so not to have a hung jury when voting was required... the reason for seven or nine board members in the past. Eight, as proposed, is surely unworkable. Secondly let's apply my principle of PC maturity to the NZAF Board quota issue, as follows: The NZAF has had a constitutional commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi. The work of adopting the principles of the Treaty commenced whilst I was a board member [Smith was board member 1996 thru 1998 -ed.] with subsequent boards and Executive Directors making huge steps forward with the constitutional changes. They must be commended on this work and success. However when reading later articles I am under the impression that the Board feel the ultimate achievement will be a 50% Maori representation on the board. Presently there are four Maori board members who have the skills required to govern the organisation but this will not always be the case from previous experience. PC maturity would state that we need to ask ourselves if this 50% representation - and 50% does not equate to equal representation (see my maths exercise below) - would be of benefit to the organisation and people they represent. Quoting the NZAF's Executive Director ( news, 9 June 2005): “Maori make up just under 15% of New Zealand's total population” and “Middle-aged white males are the group currently most represented in HIV infection statistics, with Maori faring very low by comparison.” Where is the justification for increasing Maori representation to 50% based on these statements? Would it not be more prudent to increase the representation of middle aged white males? Remember I am looking at this situation from a ‘PC maturity' perspective rather than what is politically correct. NZAF Deputy Chairperson states (“NZ AIDS Foundation Announces Consultation Process,”, undated) “NZAF has had a long-standing constitutional commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi. This announcement shows that the commitment is real and should be manifested in the decision-making processes of the organisation at its highest level”. PC madness or PC maturity? You decide based on my interpretation of PC maturity? Thinking PC maturity, which is still acknowledging the principles of the Treaty at a higher level and thinking about the good of the organisation and who the board represents, and based on the following points, is there a justification for having a 50% representation of Maori on the board? - The NZAF Board has made constitutional changes in order to work in partnership with Maori; - Policy and procedures have been rewritten to work in partnership with Maori; - The very successful Hau Oa Takataapui programme was established to represent Maori and their needs; - “Middle-aged white males are the group currently most represented in HIV infection statistics;” - “Maori make up just 15% of New Zealand's total population” with a lesser percentage infected or affected by HIV; - NZAF vision: A world without HIV and AIDS; - NZAF mission: Preventing the transmission of HIV and supporting people affected by HIV and AIDS to maximise their health and well-being. My argument is, and will always be, that the Board must consist of members with the required skills, regardless of culture, race or sexual orientation, which can govern the organisation towards achieving its vision, mission and purpose with the Board not loosing sight of the people it represents. The NZAF is not the only organisation dealing with this issue of quota. I read with interest that the Youth Suicide Group is also being pressured for a 50% Maori representation on their board. Justification is not strong as, based on the 2005 figures, of the 500 youth who committed suicide in that year 17 identified as Maori. In conclusion I would like to leave you with an interesting maths exercise... you do the sums: Total NZAF Board Members: 8 Maori representation required: 4 HIV+ representation required (any culture, any gender, any age): 2 Remaining places available (Pakeha?): 2 Jonathan Smith - 25th June 2005    

Credit: Jonathan Smith

First published: Saturday, 25th June 2005 - 12:00pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us