Apr 25, 2011

Some thoughts from the East Coast...

I spent the Easter weekend on the East Coast in between Te Kaha and Waihau Bay. The weather was a bit shitty at times, but that didn’t detract from the fact that the coast is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. Life is unassuming and the people are modest. The people and the land lack any pretentiousness, you know where you stand and things are what they seem. There are no posers, no hideous glass towers, no rabble - life is simple and modernity is sparse. It is almost a nostalgic picture, a snapshot in time, New Zealand as it used to be, but more especially Maori as they used to be. Life is simple.

Perhaps this description is overly romantic. But in my mind it holds true. And I do not want to see it threatened. The locals do not want to see it threatened either. Driving up from Opotiki to Te Kopua you are left in no doubt as to the position of the locals. Protest graffiti is scattered across the road, signs dot the roadside and banners hang proudly from homes, fences and sheds and shacks. One of my favourites was “Mean Greenpeace Mean”.

This isn’t going to go away, but sadly I find it hard to see Te Whanau a Apanui winning. Having said that, the circumstances are capricious. Sudden change may occur. Especially if the public swings behind Te Whanau a Apanui. We all remember the schedule 4 back down. In that case the public responded to a very powerful narrative cultivated by the opposition (Greenpeace, the Greens, Labour etc). But can Te Whanau a Apanui and Greenpeace replicate that? Hopefully. Mining schedule 4 land also personally touched middle New Zealand, it was not an exclusive concern. Does oil drilling in the Raukumara touch most New Zealanders? Hopefully. Do New Zealanders accept that the rewards from oil drilling offset the risk? Hoepfully not. This is not a Maori issue. It is an environmental issue.

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