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Coalition chaos, gold or greenery

Oops, sorry, I should have said NZ Transport Agency. How silly of me. The coalition agreement expressly stated that government departments would use English names first, so I stand corrected. But hey, wait a minute, didn’t I see on TV News, Kaianga Ora head Chris Bishop planning to keep using the Maori name because it had always been called that and nobody ever uses its English name Homes and Communities. Then old Winnie says that nobody understands the meaning of Kaianga Ora so it should be called Homes and Communities and to cap it all off, David Seymour wanted it to be Houses and Communities. It was all a bit of a laugh but at the same time it was a bit confusing for an old pensioner like me. I thought to myself, “If this is the chaos of the first 100 days, what’s it going be like after three years. Let’s hope, for the sake of the country, the three parties find a bit of cohesion from ‘God knows where’. I’ve been wondering if we will have to start singing the English version of the national anthem first at All Black games now even though the All Blacks have yet to become a government department; you never know. And what about the haka done in English. “’Tis death, ‘tis death, ‘tis life….this is the man…..etc” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it? But we all like it done in Te Reo anyway. I have the feeling that most of us love watching it and feel proud of the Maori culture of which we are all a part. We wouldn’t change it for quids, would we?

But I digress. I really wanted to talk about some of the things I experienced on my South Island trip which I mentioned in my last editorial. Our Air BnB host told us about a large gold mine in the planning stages quite near her vineyard at Bendigo in Central Otago. Quite understandably, she is worried about the impact an industry, with a very dubious environmental track record, and employing hundreds of workers, will have on her small piece of paradise. Many of the workers will comprise imported employees, due to skill shortages here and will put much pressure on the areas already over-loaded infrastructure, housing for example. There’s no doubt that gold is an amazing metal used in, among other things, computers and electronics, medicine, and space travel, but I was gobsmacked when I read in that around half of all gold mined is used for jewellery and a lot of the rest is just stored in vaults by governments and investors to hedge against variations in economic conditions, and used as a speculative asset for those who can afford it. Not being the kind of bloke who would wear gold jewellery, especially with the top button of my shirt undone, if you know what I mean, and being one who would prefer to see an unspoiled natural environment rather than making a few bucks speculating in precious metals, I find these two uses of gold a bit confounding. It makes me remember the battles we have fought here in the Coromandel to keep multi-national mining companies from exploiting Coromandel gold (the metal not the plant). Unfortunately, Jacinda Ardern’s administration, despite the good things it achieved, never delivered on its 2017 promise to ban mining on the conservation estate. And more unfortunately, newly appointed Resource Minister Shane Jones has announced that mining is back big time. “We are going to extract the dividend from mother nature’s legacy….” he chimes. He almost makes it sound poetic. But here in Whitianga, we don’t need to worry because our MP Scott Simpson is on record as saying “I will be one of the first, if not THE first, to lie down in front of the bulldozers if they try to mine north of the Kopu-Hikuai Road. He’s even told Oceana Gold not to even think about it. I would expect some of those who recently voted for you will be joining you, together with most of those who didn’t vote for you. Imagine, a band of protesters from different political parties lying in front of Shane and his brigade as they come rolling their bulldozers over the Kuaotunu hill. It would be an interesting standoff.

Unfortunately, Scott’s heroic stand, (or should I say “lie down”) doesn’t apply south of the Kopu Hikuai Road, where there is at present a proposal for an underground gold mining operation at Wharekirauponga, near Whangamata. The Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki are vehemently opposing this, so if you agree with them, they could do with a bit of support. Look them up on line.

And on that positive note I will wish you all a very happy festive season and hope that this summer will bring us all, especially our hard-hit businesses, a bit of normality. Happy New Year.

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