One of the things I just love about Hawke’s Bay is the way in which we are happy to express views on important issues. Whilst many may talk about political apathy the recent Craggy Range walk way debarcle demonstrates to me that people are not apathetic about everything.
I think many of the arguments on both sides are valid. Some are not. Firstly I fully support property rights. We should be able to do what we like on our own property so long as it causes no harm to others. This is why we have plans, consent requirements, and all that other bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. To ensure we do no harm to others. I also happen to believe that over time the track would meld into the landscape. How soon that would happen who knows? But like all good things it just takes time.
Where I think it all went terribly wrong was in the inability of Hastings District Council to suggest to Craggy Range that they should consult with Tangata Whenua. Who knows now what the outcome of such consultation would have been but there is no point in dwelling on the past.
The decision by Craggy Range to close the track was a brave one. To my mind it demonstrated that Craggy Range, like many businesses who are intrenched in our community, just wanted to do the right thing. It’s why I retain confidence that the biggest environmental challenges we face remain solvable. Most people have a strong ethical compass, they just need the courage and resources to do the right thing.
That is why it is unfortunate that this project has become embroiled in such controversy. I am pleased that Craggy Range took the time to consult with Ngati Kahungunu. It speaks of their strong ethics and their desire to retain their social right to operate. I doubt we will ever know the true reason why they made the decision to close the track but clearly they have come an understanding about the significance of Te Mata Peak to both Maori and Pakeha.
What is sad is the lack of understanding by many people of the significance Maori hold for the landscape. There are so many stories to be told of the history of Hawke’s Bay which aren’t well known because, to be frank, we have not been taught them. I have to admit though that my children’s generation are far better grounded in this respect. It’s just that my generation missed out.
One of the benefits of being a Regional Councillor is that I get the opportunity to hear some of these stories, straight from the horses mouth so to speak. They remind me of the bedtime stories my grandfather used to tell me when I would overnight with my grandparents. These are the stories, as well as yarns about things my father and I did, that I repeated to my children and will eventually tell to my grandchildren.
I believe this is how we develop our connection with the landscape. By knowing about the history behind those special places. It makes them special to us. For example, as Ambassador for Tutira I have been amazed by how many people throughout New Zealand have said what a special place it is for them. They all seem to have stories about Tutira that they hold close to their hearts.
So I have trouble understanding why some are saying that because Craggy Range had property rights that it shouldn’t have been necessary to consult with Tangata Whenua. The only thing I can put it down to is ignorance. Not willfull ignorance mind you. Just an indication of how lacking our education was because I’m in the same boat as everyone else on that one.
Hopefully, in much the way as the dam debate increased peoples understanding of the water challenges facing Hawke’s Bay, the track will make people more aware of the importance of planning processes, realise the shortcomings of allowing these sorts of decisions to be made in splendid isolation from the politicians, and become more aware of just how dangerous it is to say something is right simply because all the boxes have been ticked. But most importantly I hope that it motivates people to learn more about our local history. That is something that would be well worth making a New Years resolution to do. It’s so very rewarding.
Talking point submitted 29/12/17