It’s the least we could do

By: Daniel Hutchinson

Daniel Hutchinson
From The Hutch

Kia ora koutou

When Jacinda was out there on the campaign trail in the last general election telling everyone “let’s do this” I wasn’t entirely sure what  was meant by that.

But, it sounded good. One of the best slogans I’ve heard in an election.

I assumed it had something to do with poverty and levelling the balance between rich and poor people. Or maybe housing – yeah, let’s build 100,000 houses and give them to people who can afford them. This will flood the market with houses and drive down prices so young families can afford houses again.

Great, except that it’s hard enough to get one house built in this country, let alone 100,000. You could just imagine what the Grand Designs episode of that project would look like now that it’s dead and buried.

These kinds of generic slogans tend to mean different things to different people and it clearly meant something entirely different to certain senior staffers in the Labour Party.

The culture of just doing it, regardless of the damage inflicted on other people, is possibly not what the general public was hoping for.

At least the government recognised the problems with KiwiBuild and pulled the pin before it cost the country too much money.

Worst gift ever

Anyway, it’s Maori Language Week and I reckon Tauranga could probably take the prize for the worst acknowledgement of this.

The whole country was busy throwing te reo around like a toddler with spaghetti and at least making the effort to be seen to be doing the right thing.

There were so few events on around this district that we struggled to find a picture for the front page – hence the lovely picture of the girls preparing for Chinese Autumn festival. Yes, the irony is not lost on me either.

At least the Tauranga City Council had a radical plan this week. It was going to offer something to iwi – a grand gesture.

Yes, after hundreds of years of developing tens of thousands of hectares of land into a city, the council was planning to give a quarter acre section to the Otamataha Trust, which represents local iwi Ngāti Tapu and Ngai Tamarawaho.

They could put their name on the deed and everything. And they would be able to earn $1 a year off the rental, as long as they leased it back to The Elms.

To me, that’s a bit like buying someone a $1 Instant Kiwi for their birthday. “Noho ora mai. It’s the least I could do mate!”

Maori obviously have a fair bit of history in the CBD and right across the city really. Tauranga means safe harbour by the way. Check out our street poll on page six on that subject.

Back in the 1830s local iwi agreed that the Anglican Church could use the land for the betterment of Maori and education between the two parties. The church later gave this land to the Crown and the local iwi were upset about that. The church apologised for this last year.

Anyway, long story short. The council still owns a little piece of land next to The Elms on Mission St.

It was originally going to give this piece of land, with the dilapidated house on it to The Elms Trust, which would absorb it into the wider estate there, knock the building down and build an education centre on it.

People would be able to come along and learn about the Maori and pakeha culture and local history there - the very same reason why Maori gave the church the land in the first place.

However, it ran this idea past the Otamataha Trust, which said actually it would like ownership of the piece of land. The history of this site is absolutely staggering, and something all city residents should learn about.

Otamataha Trust agreed to lease the site back to The Elms for $1 a year. The Elms could continue to do their thing. The council and iwi could strengthen their relationship, all at no cost. The perfect win-win-win situation.

This has gone down like a lead balloon within certain sectors of the community and some of the 775 submissions [55 per cent in opposition] are quite unbelievable in this day and age.

So, after robust discussion this week, the council decided in a split vote of 5/6 to give the land to Otamataha Trust, as long as it leased it back for $1 a year to The Elms but only if The Elms agrees to the decision.

If I was the recipient of this “gesture” I think I’d be telling them to put their fake gift back in their fake peace pipe and smoke it.

It really was the least they could do.

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei