Yesterdaze: Announcing the hand-me-down honours

Does New Zealand have any candidates worthy of the all-important HRH prefix Harry and Meghan have left behind? Columnist James Elliott gives his nods to our most deserving lot in this week's Yesterdaze

This week was both a beginning and an end – a beginning of the political year in New Zealand and an end, sort of, to the current tribulations of the House of Windsor. Buckingham Palace confirmed the details of the departure, sort of, of Sussexiteers Harry and Meghan.

They are leaving the UK, sort of, but keeping Frogmore Cottage. And they are also leaving behind their royal titles, sort of, still being referred to as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but losing the all-important HRH prefix. In summary, Harry and Meghan have managed to step down as royals while remaining somewhat titled and still very much entitled.

As a proud member of the Commonwealth, New Zealand took up the opportunity to make use of the two newly-available HRH titles – sort of.        

The Act Party kicked off the new political year in typical HRH fashion – Has Reliable Hijinks – by announcing that he would be holding a Waitangi Day event under the banner of “MAGA - Make Aotearoa Great Again”.

Act then explained in excruciating detail how he reworked Trump’s mega MAGA meme, “Because America and Aotearoa both begin with A we thought we’d have a bit of fun”. He’s right on both counts. America and Aotearoa do both begin with A. And it is a bit of fun to play with the MAGA meme. For instance, based on the party vote in the 2017 election, 99.5% of the electorate are in favour of MAGA – Make Act Go Away.

It’s also fun to predict that by the time election campaigning is over later this year twerking in a neon yellow singlet with pink running shorts on ‘Dancing With The Stars’ will not have been Act’s most cringe-worthy public performance.  

The other HRH was snapped up by NZ First’s Shane Jones. To be fair the self-appointed Champion of the Regions has been a de facto HRH for quite some time but it’s always gratifying to be bestowed the title officially: Shane Jones, HRH - Hollers Regular Histrionics.

This week he likened climate change activists advocating reduced meat consumption to “medieval torture chamber workers preaching a gospel of absolutism”. I’m not convinced the medieval torture analogy makes sense but he did at least get across forcefully that the rack he most prefers is a lamb one.And he also got himself a “Shane Jones Unleashes” headline, which is both job done for the week and consistent with his role as Winston Peters’ understudy. For those not familiar with the NZ First headline hierarchy it goes “Winston Lashes Out” followed by “Shane Jones Unleashes” and then “Ron Mark Is Monitoring the Situation”.

Linking meat consumption to climate change in a new schools’ curriculum resource was this week’s political hot potato. The Labour party managed to stay out of the discussion leaving it to Climate Change Minister James Shaw to front the issue, whereas National came down squarely on the side of Big Meat. National’s deputy leader Paula Bennett said there was misinformation in the resource about the meat industry’s impact on the environment that was “feeding into the hype and hysteria without the research behind it”.

National then doubled-down on its support for the meat industry, announcing that it was beefing up security at its party headquarters in ironically-named Greenlane following the break-in and theft of three laptops last weekend. National Party execs were left to ponder a few questions: ‘Why didn’t they take anything else?’ ‘Was the heist politically motivated?’ and ‘When did I last delete my browser history?’

There was one significant clue literally left behind for police investigators, the burglars leaving behind bottles of wine that National claimed were valuable items. Apparently not that valuable. So if you know someone with a newly-acquired laptop, a sophisticated wine palate and who can’t account for their whereabouts last Sunday night, please call the authorities.     

Looking to the week ahead, if you see a spaceship-looking object in the night sky any time after January 31 there’s no need to call the authorities. That will be Rocket Lab’s latest launch, the “Birds of a Feather” mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), an agency for the US Department of Defense.

There’s some concern as to what might be in the rocket payload given that the very existence of the NRO was classified until 1992 and that the NRO describes itself like this: “When the United States needs eyes and ears in critical places where no human can reach – be it over the most rugged terrain or through the most hostile territory – it turns to the NRO."

Those concerns have been allayed, sort of, by the “Space Minister” whose job it is to sign-off on each payload based on strict criteria. There are several categories of payload that are banned including payloads with the intended end use of supporting or enabling specific defence, security or intelligence operations that are contrary to Government policy.

So apparently there’s no need to be concerned, but then again the Space Minister is Phil Twyford who’s been HRH - Hapless, Really Hapless - for quite some time.

Have a peaceful weekend.

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