November 18, 2004

Donna's World View

David W Young writes...

As MediaCow recently noted, I worked for Donna Awatere Huata for three great years.

In a move that was surprising for everybody involved, I got a job working in parliament for the Act party and became Donna's press secretary, roughly a month or so after her stomach stapling. Over the next three years I felt I became very close to her. I thought I was her confidante. I was her staunch defender and fierce advocate. She told me we were "spiritually attuned"; I counted her among my closest friends.

With the glare of hindsight I can see I was naive and gullible. Yet, at the time, I felt more loyalty to her than I ever had to anybody. I strongly admired her, perhaps even idolised her. She is a remarkably talented, intelligent person. She had the potential to achieve anything she wanted. She inspired me to work very hard for her.

In the end, after everything had turned upside down and inside out, I was one of the last people working for Act she or Wi would talk to. (By then they didn't like what I was saying.)

I visited her new office once, a few weeks after she had been suspended from the party. We had a stilted conversation. We haven't spoken since.

I have many memories, anecdotes, impressions, but I'd like to keep those bottled up and away from the uncompromising harshness of cynical hindsight or retrospective thinking. Regardless of everything else, we were a great team. I miss that. I think I miss her.

Today Donna finds out if she is booted out of Act.

The logical part of me knows it's simple: Act voters wanted nine members of Parliament. They no longer have nine MPs and that is Donna's fault. Therefore, no matter how flawed the Waka Jumping legislation is, Act should be allowed to shed her, especially before she gains extra taxpayer-funded perks at the end of this parliamentary term.

But, emotionally, I find the issue less clear. At a gut level I don't want the court to rule against her. I don't want it to be over this afternoon. This part of me wants to see Donna escape the clammy embrace of the courts and wriggle free from the clutches of politics on her own terms.

It's bigger than that, though. Fundamentally, I don't want her to be shackled by reality.

Donna is a master of self reinvention. But I don't think she has ever stopped at recreating her image. Our 'spiritual attunement' came in large measure from my willingness to believe in the world that Donna created for herself.

It was a world that was larger and brighter and more magical than real life could ever be. In that world, she has never done anything wrong, she is above accountability, and she has nothing to apologise for. In that world, she is a legend first, then a diva, a motherand a saviour of children.

Yes, this may seem far-fetched, especially to people who have never met Donna. But it didn't seem so at the time.

I learned from Donna that blind faith can be remarkably comforting. It was a frightening thing to find out.

And I've now learned that even a belated gift of the power of vision doesn't mean you will allow yourself to fully see.

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