August 6

Nor was New Zealand a gulag



Karl du Fresne , a  columnist and former New Zealand daily newspaper editor, writes :

“I’ve always thought it was a great blessing that New Zealand was colonised by Britain rather than one of the other European imperial powers, such as France or Portugal or the Belgians. In many ways the British were remarkably enlightened and liberal colonisers. It’s easy to find fault from a 21st century standpoint, but from James Cook onwards they generally treated the Maori with a degree of respect that stands out against the shabby treatment of native races by colonial powers elsewhere.  Then of course there’s the great legacy of Westminster parliamentary democracy and all that went with it – political freedom, respect for individual rights, freedom of the press and free speech, a robust judicial system, and a tradition of tolerance and liberalism.  These principles weren’t always applied consistently but they did provide a sound platform on which New Zealand could develop, and I don’t think we should ever understate the great value of those traditions. I’ve often thought that if I were to find myself in prison on trumped-up charges anywhere in the world, I would want it to be Britain. You may have had your lapses – the Guildford Four and the Derek Bentley case of the 1950s come to mind; but I think I’d stand a better chance of getting a fair hearing in Britain than in most other countries, including America, where justice sometimes seems a very precarious commodity.”  


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