Salient’s been around for a while.We’ve covered student gigs – raising money for the war effort in the 40s. We’ve seen student politicians accused of being Communists – cloth-hat-wearing, card-carrying, ice-pick wielding Communists. We were there when students led the fight against the Springbok tour – in the 70s, before it became a household issue and a part of New Zealand’s collective consciousness.
Like the ad says, being there is everything.
The history of our era hasn’t been written yet, but there are no shortages of things to write about.
Last year saw the grounds of Parliament fill to the brim with protestors – twice. The bigger of the two, the Hikoi, was sparked by the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. In the end, although the practical consequences of the legislation were small, the underlying principles made all the difference in the world. Outraged by what they perceived as Crown confiscation of Maori land, Maori leaders used the Hikoi to recapture the sense of solidarity, pride and empowerment of the original Land Marches. Will the Hikoi march on to the ballot box and make the Maori Party a major political force, as Tariana Turia predicted? The polling so far says “no”, but we’ll see. And I mean, we’ll see – in the News, that’s what we do.
The other major event of the year was Destiny Church’s “Enough is Enough” march. The strength and numbers of the American-style Christian fundamentalists shocked the liberal elements of society into taking them seriously. Destiny Church’s leaders, Brian Tamaki and Brian Tamaki’s Hair, have had a private box in the media limelight ever since. Will we see the Right (or even Labour) scramble for the conservative vote, and set the social liberalisation agenda back indefinitely?
On a similar note, the Civil Union Act is now law. Assuming the accompanying Bill passes, we will soon have “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Marriage” for homosexual couples. How will God-fearing folks react?
With everyone marching on Parliament, the National Front had to have a go, too. Though only 30 or so members turned out, they managed to have the bloodiest rally of 2004, with the help of some anarchists. The two groups had a brief skirmish on the street outside the Law School, ending with the National Front fleeing in their getaway car. They left a single confused and bloodied skinhead to fend for himself, as the anarchists hounded him until one woman took him to safety. Even as neo-Nazism, the National Front is a joke, but as race looks set to play a large role in the 2005 elections, how will it affect the racial dynamics of New Zealand? What about at Vic?
As the conscience of society, the university population has always had a large role in navigating through these issues. This year, for the first time, Salient will be an accredited member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and we’ll be on the inside to cover the issues for students.
Closer to home, we’ve also got a whole range of issues at the university that will directly affect your time here. The biggest ones, of course, are student loans and allowances. If students are ever going to be offered bribes by the Government, it’s going to be this year, being an election year. But will this come at a cost of having under-resourced universities? This stuff is our bread and butter, and we’ll be bringing it to you every Monday.
The last – and biggest – part of our job is keeping your student politicians honest. VUW Students’ Association is doing okay financially, but suffers from an unprecedented level of student apathy – will the new executive be able to revive this institution? Ngai Tauira, the Maori students’ association, commissioned an investigation last year into one of their own over $123,000 – the equivalent of a full year’s funding – that went missing over five years. Where are they now, and how will they recover?
We have a lot of questions, and News is the place where we’re going to give you the answers.