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Freedom of speech has been very much to the fore in recent weeks. Each of us has a view premised on whether or not we view that it is better the devil you know than you don’t. However, it’s the devil in the detail of the intent –be it harmful (and/or hateful) and whether (or not) it is preferable to be confronted, affronted to confront.  I shared my views last week when Bryan Vickery interviewed me on Radio Hokonui –make sure to tune in every Monday at 8.35am to listen in on your local MP’svoiced view and opinion on topical political and local issues.

Speaking of opinion and ideas, in past weeks I’ve had the pleasure of visiting several Whanganui electorate primary schools –Stratford Primary also, to share in the joys of imagination, articulation(sounds) ,reading, looking (pictures, shapes ,colours and form), literature and learning. Duffy Books in Schools is a time of excitement for many children who until this innovative, immense initiative and idea, were bookless homes. Alan Duff, although on occasion contentious in his expression of social opinions and perspective, openly, freely opined, wrote and spoke –many disagreeing and disavowing his views. However, his Duffy Books in Schools has been widely avowed and wowed favourably since it was launched in Hawke’s Bay in 1995. Duff’s idea of giving/gifting books to primary school students is now in excess of 12 million books, so it can be said that his freedom of thought and expression on this front has been exceedingly constructive, far from the affront and confrontation of his other views.

How intolerant a society should we evolve to? Is it better to know the devil you do, than the devil you don’t?

And what an immense and intense week and weekend of spectator sport for me. As a former athlete (and netballer) the passion endures. At the beginning of the month, I attended the Pulse v Mystics netball semi-final in Wellington. It’s a telling time-lapse when daughters of my former team-mates (Waimarama Taumaunu and Leonie Leaver nee Wendt) are on court, when once upon a time I was holding court with their mothers (35+yearsago). Attending the game in support of Pulse as MP for our region was pulsating stuff –and literally the Pulse-ate up the opposition. And then on Saturday the 4th, in Hāwera for the challenge by Wanganui of the Ranfurly Shield defending titan Taranaki, I was in a rare position as MP for both teams. With a boot in both camps, it was a win/win all round. And post-match reconnecting with players from both teams, who were at school with my children and querying whether any might be available to bolster our parliamentary rugby team. There is a parliamentary netball team – I didn’t get to chat to any of the players after the Pulse match, so my netball contribution could be for the position of water- aunty or orange-aunty!  It’s a timely reminder how timely time has timed-by, to have MP colleagues nickname me ‘‘aunty’’!

As  I venture time and Taranaki, particularly in my role as National Party portfolio spokeswoman for Māori tourism, I shall be seeking to adventure many of the local Taranaki tourism venues and operations. I’d be delighted if you would message me of the many and any that I ought to meet and visit, so email me at haretehipmp@parliament.govt.nz

Until next time  – ma te wa.

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