Thursday, April 7, 2011

The plastic waka.

This wee post comes courtesy of a facebook comments thread that is getting wildly out of control. And it's getting wildly out of control, because there are two opposing school of thought. One, given that it's my school of thought, is of the opinion that the last minute addition of a plastic (with a canvas overlay(?)) waka to the waterfront is a) a waste of money, b) tacky. The other school of thought, as best as I can tell, is that there is nothing overtly maori on our waterfront and now that someone has come up with this idea we might as well get on with it.

A couple of things.
If this had been something that had been planned for sometime, then yes, fair enough, get on with it. To the best of my knowledge though (I've done a little digging, not much) it isn't. It's a shoddy last minute addition to the construction program, that in the space of what, a week?, has become vitally important. So important that no one saw fit to mention for the last 4 years of planning. And sitting in a bar somewhere yaking to mates about "y'know, they really should put something maori looking down on the waterfront" doesn't count. It's not that we don't have time to change the situation (we don't, but that's not the point), as far as I (and I presume the general public) am concerned, just putting the thing up is the change in the situation.

And if we're worried about looking mature as a nation, last minute "oh we should have something maori looking there" is not the way to do it. Yeah, fine, have a waka on the waterfront. Personally, I think it's a grand idea. If you're going to to something like this though, you should do it well. The shortsightedness is not on the part of the people who are opposing this. It one the part of the people who want to rush stuff through at the last minute with bugger all planning and assume that it'll look alright in the end. That's how we almost ended up with a stadium on the waterfront. That's how we ended with bucket loads of tiny tiny apartments making the inner city look crap. That's how we ended up with glass monoliths with facades instead of heritage buildings. By not stopping and actually planning. Last minute additions make us look less mature "-they obviously didn't think about that, did they", not more mature.

And even if you're going to write Shane Jones of for his (so far) one huge cock up as an MP (and it was a large one), he does have a point, if it's that important, why were the public not informed, where were the calls for tender on what is apparently such an important project. More importantly, the goevernment money is being redirected from other maori initiatives, what is missing out? Is it healthcare, is it education? We have no idea.

The worst comment in the entire article, I'm afraid, comes from Pita Sharples, which is odd, he's normally a lot more onto it - "We've got to celebrate New Zealand while we're dealing with the earthquake and while we're dealing with the downturn in the economy. We've gotta have some happiness, we've gotta celebrate and stand up and say who we are." The idea that the economy is in the doldrums and that we need something to celebrate to make us happy after the earthquake, fine. To suggest that we then celebrate a last minute, not very well planned marketing ploy for maori business dumped on Auckland's waterfront for the duration of the world cup is ... borderline offensive - are we that pathetic as a nation? Then again, given our media, that's probably a quote taken horribly out of context.

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