Last week Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis launched a project in which Government and industry leaders will work together on a plan to restart tourism. They should not forget that we have been priced out of, and crowded out of, our favourite outdoor places for far too long by tourists while the industry ignored pleas to slow down and reduce the harm. Instead, with single minded determination, the industry went courting ever greater numbers each year with the misleading Clean Green propaganda message
In times of adversity we should remember how our parents and grandparents managed in difficult times. Most of us have heard about the impact on society of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Second World War which followed.
Many people will be relieved that a group of amateur explorers have given up their search for evidence of a race of eight-foot pre-Polynesian people in caves in the remote rural area of Waikaretu. Every culture has ancient legends of unusual people in their folk lore. The Irish have their mischievous leprechauns and Maori have the pale skinned Patupaiarehe. Giants also feature in most cultural histories but, so far, there is no reliable evidence of any giant humans of that size in New Zealand or anywhere else. It is highly unlikely that humans could grow to eight feet in height and still function normally and many people of heights close to seven feet have skeletal and mobility disabilities. The unidentified explorers, like many mis-informed enthusiasts before them have, however, not given up the quest to find evidence of giant people who lived in New Zealand before the Polynesians who became known as Maori. They claim to have three other locations to search for proof that these giants were the first humans in New Zealand, which they expect to be the most talked about worldwide story of the millennium. It won’t be. It will just another idealistic tale based on nothing more than a mis-identified bone, thought to be that of a moa, guess work and day dreams. Beyond the insensitivity of digging about for human remains it seemed relatively harmless. However, one archaeologist has detected something a little more sinister than misguided explorers and suggested there were racist undertones among people who refute the right of Maori to bring claims against Crown for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. That view is support by a teaching academic who studies conspiracy theories and who said theories about pre-Polynesian inhabitants of New Zealand were often used to make some variation of the claim that white people were here first and (therefore) the Treaty of Waitangi was null and void. Sadly, those opinions are not new and indicate a lamentable ignorance of New Zealand history. The treaty in fact did nothing more than establish British law and the Westminster parliamentary style of government in New…
In the first week of each new year, for the past three or four decades, I have looked back through the scribbled pages of my now filled diary and wonder how we survived it all. Then I look at the pristine unmarked pages of the new diary and wonder what issues and events will fill them over the coming 12 months. There will no doubt be developments to celebrate like weddings and new additions to our extended clan and there will be sad but inevitable losses among the ranks of family and friends. These are the things we know will mark the pages of our year with tears of happiness and grief and we prepare for them as best we can but we have very little control over them. There will also be major achievements to celebrate and be proud of as well as tragedies and atrocities which we should be able to avoid but too often fail to do so. Among the successful achievements for the past year I have noted the campaign to have our history properly taught in schools. There had been many requests in recent years for that development which were, initially resisted by the Ministry of Education, some teachers and far too many parents. Like most other nations our history has not always been a pretty story and there are aspects of our beginnings as a modern nation which haunt us still but that was no justification to lock it away in old books in dusty cupboards where our children could not read and learn about it. A promise that the Government was going to make rail fashionable again was also welcomed by many but, as yet, it is still just a promise. However given the massive fleet of huge long haul trucks wearing out expensive roads since the demise of rail few would disagree that making rail a key part of a balanced transport future was good idea. The establishment of a new Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts in Waikato, following a trial in Auckland, was also a success during the past year….
With the start of the new dairy season only weeks away the recent death of an estimated quarter of a dairy herd near Cambridge, believed to have been caused by nitrate poisoning, will be a devastating tragedy for the farmers involved. While the number of dead cows is not known the financial and potential production loss will be significant blow.
Two weeks ago another Catholic clergyman admitted he had sexually abused a little child. He was due to face a jury at the District Court in Auckland last week but pleaded guilty, saving the family the ordeal of a trial.
Just two years ago a Catholic priest was convicted and jailed for 15 months in the District Court at Hamilton for molesting young boys in the 1970s.
The recent case of a foreign tourist, caught out using a beach near Thames for a toilet, may have horrified some people but for many others, particularly in remote rural areas, it is something they see and deal with far too often.
Rumours of gunshots from surfers at a Kawhia beach have sparked outrage.
The death of the last surviving officer of the renowned 28 (Maori) Battalion of World War Two Captain Alfred (Bunty) on his Chatham Island home on Friday March 1 marked the end of an era in New Zealand’s military history . He was 96.
From the first settlement of Māori claims against the Crown for breaches of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi about 20 years ago there have been uninformed comments and accusations that the money iwi received went to a privileged few and most Māori saw nothing of it. Many commenters still hold the belief that these settlements are a form of apartheid or separate development when everyone should be treated equally with no special treatment for anyone one. The reality is that the settlements were designed, in part, to compensate iwi, not individuals, for the massive losses that were illegally imposed on them by colonial governments. The settlements were also an attempt to give iwi the opportunity to catch up to where they would have been financially and socially if they had not been dispossessed. That may sound a little idealistic today but, prior to the New Zealand Land Wars in the 1860s, Māori were major players in the economy of the new outpost of the British Empire. Thirty years earlier, in mid-1830s, Waikato tribes were supplying a significant amount of the foodstuffs required by Auckland from extensive wheat fields, flour mills and livestock farms south of Mangatāwhiri. In Taranaki there were also flour mills and farms supplying Wellington. Along the east coast of the North Island, Māori were involved in coastal and trans-Tasman shipping. Those flourishing industries were brought to ruin by the invasion of Taranaki and Waikato in the 1860s. It was near fifty years before these regions reached the level of pre-war agricultural production and Māori were excluded from participation through the loss of their most productive lands. The best most Māori could aspire to were labouring jobs, usually on land they previously owned, or in agricultural support industries like shearing and the freezing works. These are of course generalities as there were Māori who became successful farmers and professionals as individuals but the thriving tribal economies of the past had been destroyed and many Māori generations were consigned to poverty until the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in the 1970s Rebuilding that tribal economic base has not been…