What Do You Call a Tribe of Activists?

Hooray! Jacinda finally achieved something that’s not a new tax or ban. She’s managed to turn a cluster of rocks into a cluster of other sorts and in doing so, given life to a whole new autonomous and diverse tribe.

That tribe definitely needs a name – encompassing Maori and non-Maori, Pacifica and even an occasional Australian; misfits, marxists and ‘activists’ (same thing) all; so an ancestral, mono-cultural inspired hand-me-down won’t do. It needs to be something which celebrates such diversity.

Dear Leader’s intervention has made things worse, much worse, for all concerned at Ihumatao with actual skin in the game. As for her plans to produce some form of magical compromise for all, if she could just figure it out, well, here’s a clue, Ms Ardern – there is zero compromise to be had. It’s a fight, there must be a winner and a loser, there are no prizes for participating.

With her intervention, Ardern’s only compromises on show are the compromised rights of private property owners and the compromised rule of law. Fletchers and actual, legally recognised mana whenua have already agreed on a way forward with benefits to all, but our new flash-tribe, having exhausted legal avenues, have decided belligerence is their new weapon of choice.

Fletchers want 480 homes on the site; their antagonists want none. The activists want the taxpayer to buy the land and give it back to them and, given Jacinda’s history of folding to demand where it’s only trifling taxpayers’ money concerned, they now believe they’ve got the opportunity to deny local iwi and Fletchers the gains of their endeavour.

The company will probably end up saying they don’t buy into disputes, they buy into developments, but if they are returned the land cost – $19,000,000, development costs so far (probably similar to the purchase price), forgone gains from the expected development and staff hours and huge barristers fees for the several years they have worked with archaeological experts and local iwi through resource consents and legal challenges including the RMA, the Environment Court and Maori Land Court, they will accede. Expect the total bill to exceed $90M.

Given an emotional argument, our prime minister folds, never mind reason and law; as compellingly factual as they may be, it’s all too much. Our new tribe of prickly protesters claims Auckland City Council’s efforts to buy the land “were thwarted by the landowner”, but is that true? From the landowner’s point-of-view: no. They wanted the best price for their land and after already agreeing to sell 21 hectares for the pittance of $1M, as much as Auckland City Council spends on afternoon tea in a year, to create the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve and feeling “that was our contribution to the public good”, they wanted a market rate for the remainder, and who can blame them?

Dealing with facts is not our protesters’ thing, nor Jacinda’s. So who are these unreasonable people and how should we address them?

And then it came to me, flashing from the pages of the Maori Land Court judgement against the protesters, the latest collective of sit-inners and fact-averse militants, whose ‘traditional claims to the land’ argument against the development were heard, failed, and described perfectly by Justice Armstrong…Ladies and Gents, please welcome Aotearoa’s newest pan-activist affiliation: ‘Te Unintelligible Dia-Tribe’

With our Dear Leader now imposing herself as their new, nominal, fledgeling and furiously nodding head, all I can say is good luck, prime minister.

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