I did a post a few days ago regarding this seemingly racist situation with New Plymouth District Councillor, Sherril George. I was pretty unforgiving of her attitude, and behaviour. I watched the segment on Campbell Live regarding this issue last night, and i have spoken to a concerned resident of Waitara, and i have changed my opinion...sort of.
While i don't agree with the way Sherril went about handling this situation, and the way she comes across in the media (or the way they purposely portray her?) is pretty bad, i can understand her point of view, and concern for a town that she obviously loves.
The whole situation reminded me a bit of a documentary that i had watched regarding Walmart in America, and how the Walmart chain has moved into every small town in America, and in doing so, has virtually wiped out the small town American, independent business owner. They have succeeded in doing this, by undercutting the smaller stores, and offering basically everything, at much cheaper prices.
As we saw on Campbell Live last night, at first that appears to be a good thing. The residents of Waitara were interviewed for that segment saying that they will go where they get the best value for their hard earned dollar. Fair enough. Nothing wrong with that. We all want a bargain, and to save money where we can. What those residents that were interviewed are not thinking about though, is what that Town and Country Food CHAIN moving into their town, and undercutting the other businesses will do to their town in the long run. I think that is exactly what Sherril George IS thinking about though.
The media did not initially report that the business next door, who have been there for years, are now losing money, and have had to let staff go are Cambodian, as well. The staff that this shop has had to lay off, have had to resort to going on the DPB. If this business continues to lose money, it will eventually close down, after having been there for years, and that will add a couple more people to the dole queue in Waitara. That, in turn, means those families all have less money...to spend in Waitara. That will have a flow on effect for the rest of the businesses in the area, creating a vicious cycle. This cycle has been repeated over, and over in every small town in America.
Do we really want to follow in those footsteps? The Cambodian neighbours of Town and Country Food, are not the only small food business that has already been effected by that Hamilton based chain moving in to Waitara. There are several other small businesses that are hurting because of it.
Saving a few cents on their sausage rolls at morning tea every day, will end up costing the Waitara community a lot more than many people can imagine, in the long wrong. I don't actually think Sherril George is a racist, now that i have thought about this properly, and not just believed what i have seen and read in the media. I think Sherril George is a clever lady that loves Waitara, who probably went the wrong way about doing the right thing. Her issue is with larger chain stores moving into the area and undercutting the local business...not race.
It is interesting also, and important to note, that the Race Relations commissioner, Joris de Bres made his comments to the media, based solely on what he had been told - by the media. He had not spoken to Sherril George, or anyone else in Waitara. He had commented on information that he had received FROM THE MEDIA.
That is my unbiased, un - media -spun view on this story. Progress and change in small towns is what this story was about. The media turned this into a race story.