Home' The Wellingtonian : June 16th 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 16, 2011
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Chris Laidlaw's take on life
Joseph Romanos talks
to Chris Laidlaw about
his radio programme,
being an All Black, and
should become a super-
Chris Laidlaw: ''He [Sid Going] was totally instinctive, a bit like Ma'a Nonu these days.''
How's your radio show
[Sunday mornings on Radio
New Zealand] going?
Very well. We ve just completed
10 years, and the ratings are good.
I really enjoy the show. It s a
learning experience -- I learn
while the listener learns.
Have you improved as a
The first day I was so nervous.
I stumbled my way through. At
a lie down! Those feelings of
extreme anxiety have gone, but
there s always that frisson -- the
continuity aspect, counting down
to the hour, and also, wondering if
the interview subject will, in fact,
Do you have no-shows?
Occasionally. One time I had a
25-minute interview slotted in
and we couldn t get hold of the
person. We had no other inter-
views in the system, so I kept
talking, played a bit of music, told
some stories. At the end of a day
like that you get a letter saying
you re talking too much!
The fact that you played for
the All Blacks seems to be a
continuing theme in your life.
In New Zealand, whatever you
do after you play for the All
Blacks, you ll still be known as a
former All Black. I used to worry
about it, try to get away from my
past and move on. But now I don t
mind. In fact, I m proud of the fact
that I was an All Black and really
enjoy our various get-togethers.
Would you rather have been
an All Black now?
No. We d be better paid, of
course, but I enjoyed playing
when I did, not being told how to
live every minute of my life.
Are today's players better?
They re bigger and fitter, but
the leading players of my time
had the skills. There are better
skills among some of the forwards
now -- running, passing, kicking.
Your great New Zealand
halfback rival was Sid Going.
What did you think of him?
I rated Sid very highly. He was
a kind of genius figure. It went
wrong occasionally and we lost a
bit. He was totally instinctive, a
bit like Ma a Nonu these days. I
had the misfortune to play against
him in North-South matches and
we were the weaker team. I was in
Otago and Sid was in Northland,
so we probably only played
against each other three or four
times in all, and not for our
provinces. When I played I liked
to keep a sense of control over the
game. That s what gave me most
pleasure. Sid was completely dif-
Who was the best All Black
captain of your time?
I had three very good ones. Wil-
son Whineray was somewhat eth-
ereal, but a strong leader. Brian
Lochore led well because of the
personal respect his players had
for him. John Graham was very
organised and more assertive. I
felt very comfortable under
Graham s leadership. His hard
edge appealed to me. I was
pleased he was knighted recently.
You had a brief stint as a
Labour MP. How did you
I didn t like it. There s nothing
more dispiriting than being an
Opposition backbencher. Your pri-
mary role is laying banana skins
in front of ministers. I realised
when I got to Parliament I d made
an awful mistake. I went in with
my eyes fairly well shut. I was
hoping to get a role in foreign
affairs. But we lost the election
and that was that. The situation
in Parliament is probably a little
better now, with MMP. More flexi-
As a regional councillor, do
you think Wellington should
go the Auckland way and
become a super-city?
I ve looked at Auckland closely.
We don t need a super-city. The
region is a bit disparate for that.
But we need a single body that
can take the resource manage-
ment decisions. Like a regional
council, but bigger and with more
responsibility for all three water
issues -- bulkwater, wastewater
and stormwater -- waste, climate
change energy management, road-
ing. It s economies of scale.
So it's to save money?
No-one knows if you would save
money, but there would be
efficiencies, where there are over-
lapping responsibilities now.
Would you still have the city
Yes, councils are the service
delivery agents. You want to
reassure people they won t lose
You were the Race Relations
Conciliator in the early 1990s.
How has the scene changed
I think we ve moved on. There is
a comfort now that wasn t there in
the past. There have been huge
steps in the Maori-Pakeha
relationship, though there s still
talk about how much respons-
ibility and how long the time
frame should be. When I was in
the job there was a Treaty indus-
try feeling that has since
diminished, though there will
always be problems. The Asian
dimension was beginning to
bubble up, but it has never been
as grave an issue.
You were a Dunedin lad.
What's been the appeal of Wel-
I ve always liked Wellington. All
the usual attributes that are
totted out. Even the wind is a good
thing -- very good for our air qual-
ity. I enjoy Wellington s compact-
ness. It s a very manageable city
with its full share of events,
including theatre and music.
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