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Tariana Turia's Beehive Chat 3 February 2003

Tariana Turia's Beehive Chat 3 February 2003

Money isn't everything

Ten days ago, there was a story in a national newspaper about what's believed to be the last Maori-owned land on the lakefront in Taupo. The owner, Blanche Kapua, has been offered $800,000 for her modest house.

But it's not for sale. Blanche says the land has too much significance, because it's been in her late husband's family for generations. She wants it protected as a Maori reserve for public access and picnics.

What a wonderful gesture! Blanche may live in Millionaire's Row, but she's not wealthy. She just thinks the land is more important than the money.

Blanche says people think she's crazy. But I see Blanche as someone who believes her cultural values outweigh market values, and who knows that commercial development won't always benefit the community. Blanche puts public good and the needs of future generations ahead of private profit.

It's wonderful to see Blanche getting recognition, for herself, and for all tangata whenua who have done similar things. Unbeknown to the wider community, many public buildings still stand on land donated by tangata whenua. More and more Maori land is protected by conservation covenants.

Tangata whenua and others who make such gifts to our national heritage, are saying, and proving, that money isn't everything.

The hapu who insist on protecting wahi tapu, such as the rua taniwha beside State Highway One at Meremere, are saying the same thing - that the financial cost of development is not the only consideration.

Many Maori claims are designed, not to take resources away from others, but to protect them from commercial exploitation for private profit. They include radio spectrum claims, flora and fauna, and many land and fisheries claims.

But some people will never understand the motives of tangata whenua, because money and profit are their only yardsticks. They think Blanche is crazy, Ngati Naho are superstitious, and the rest of us are greedy.

You can bet your bottom dollar those same people wouldn't support tangata whenua getting full compensation for the land and resources that have been wrongfully taken from them.

Are you crazy?!

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