Hamilton Press Club life president Steve Braunias reveals the next guest speaker at the most glamorous social event in New Zealand journalism held in Hamilton.
The Hamilton Press Club stands with Golriz Ghahraman. Not unquestioningly. Certainly not politically. The Greens! Lol! But the rage she inspires is bizarre at best, ugly at worst. Haters, trolls, old men waving their fists at clouds and a wide range of critics have it in for the first refugee to become an MP in New Zealand – but the red carpet will be rolled out for the 37-year-old Green when she appears as guest speaker at the Hamilton Press Club’s third and final lunch event for 2018 on December 14.
Ghahraman will talk about her first year in parliament. Well, sort of. She’ll talk mostly about her experience of identity politics during her first year in parliament.
“What identity politics means to me,” she said. “And how the term is weaponised against minorities. And how our actual experiences as minorities in public lfie are inseparable from our identities as women, as women of colour, as gender diverse, etc.”
Ghahraman and her family fled post-revolution Iran and a bloody war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to find refuge in New Zealand when she was nine years old. In 2017, before the election, she wrote, “If I ever sit in New Zealand’s parliament, I will bring my expertise, but I will also bring my story, my perspective, my face.”
She got into parliament, duly brought all of those things, and the rest is a record of abuse. Soon after giving her maiden speech to parliament, which focused on immigration and xenophobia, she started receiving death threats and cyberhacks. She told Vice, “It does scare me… [If] I have to walk out that night on my own, or I might have to be alone at home or whatever, I remember Jo Cox.”
Some of it’s kind of funny maybe. There was the troll meme she got in the post. It read, “Jesus Loves You. Everyone Else Thinks You’re An Asshole.” She put a screenshot of it on the Twitter machine, and wrote, “This is at the absolute tamest end of the scale tbh. It’s been so persistent and never ending that I can’t remember life before it)…but oh my god should it not be like this for WoC [Women of Colour].”
It will be the third and final Hamilton Press Club free lunch spectacular of 2018, following a pleasant session featuring broadcaster Alison Mau speaking about #metooNZ in May, and a total shocker in August when historian Vincent O’Malley spoke about the New Zealand Wars – that’s the thing about history in New Zealand, it’s as current as the 6 o’clock news. The event got kind of like heated during question time, when audience guest Don Brash made certain remarks on the subject of race. There were howls of outrage, assorted bad language, shrieks, a fainting, some cried, others dived off the balcony and into the Waikato River. Certainly it was memorable and a good time was had by a few.
That’s the way Hamilton Press Club rolls, I suppose. It’s a centre of intelligent fun and sometimes it’s not very funny. But there’s nothing like it in New Zealand, and for it to happen in Hamilton makes it special in itself. Full credit to principal sponsor and visionary Hamilton architecture firm Chow:Hill, and contributing sponsors First Union Credit, Hamilton SkyCity and Risk Advice, for their support.
An invite-only audience of 100 will attend the December 14 event. Btw Jami-Lee Ross got invited but he declined.