National is mulling its reaction to the Rotorua lakes . My reaction was settled earlier this year. For over fifty years member of my family have spent summers around the Rotorua lakes. Most years we have been up Mt Tarawera at least once along with thousands of other people who have freely enjoyed the lake and its environs. We respected the claim to Green Lake and I have never been in or on its water. For those unfamiliar the government has awarded rights to the lakebed and surrounds to Maori. Maori claim rights to all areas even though there is no recorded occupation for most of it. Customary title goes along the lines of use it or lose it, the world over. There were two minor subtribes on the shore of Tarawera that were wiped out by the eruption. Te Arawa claimed the lakebed and foreshore and gained title for lack of any better claimants.
Nobody has lived on the mountain in the memory of my family and from my review of history nobody has ever lived on the mountain. But because we have a western system that insists all land must be owned, title of the mountain was given to 1 of the local tribes who seemed to have a better claim. Perhaps they had a majority of the 150 or so people who lived on the shores of the lake.
The mountain and the lake are part of my family taonga. we value our relationship with that water and land and have spent time and money trying to do the right thing for environment in the area.
I climbed that mountain in January with my 9 year old daughter and my 78 year old father. It was a 5 hour trip and he ended up in the local hospital that evening after a few adventures but that is not the point of this story. We went up the customary route that I have climbed many many times and passed one or two threatening signs which we duly ignored. When we reached the high plateau and admired the views the peace was disturbed, first being buzzed by a helicopter and then 2, I can only say mongrels, on a quad bike. Why were these people trying to stop us climbing "our" mountain. What had happened to the mountain after it had been formally given into Maori hand? They valued their taonga so much that they leased it out to a local whitey( as far as it matters). and this local decided that other locals were trespassing by going up the route we had been going up for over 50 years in my families knowledge and since before the 1883 eruption in the family memories of our friends and neighbours.
Now I have nothing against a person making a profit and I have been thinking in recent years about giving something back to the mountain itself. perhaps spending a few days up there clearing windthrow or the like. But I had not counted on the sheer arrogance and ignorance of such people to whom the local Maori who had leased this land.
We were told in no uncertain terms by these individuals on a quad bike, who were employees of the local who had leased the land from the Maori, that we were trespassing. Then it got worse. In front of my 9 year old daughter who was soon in tears at the intimidation, threatening behaviour and language. I was quickly told as he stuck his face in mine spit dribbling with his anger and among many insults, I was an arsehole, a w£%£er, and a poor father and that I would be decked if I kept on going. We got the local on the mobile and he told me the police were on their way. If you do not know Tarawera imagine a mountain that is accessible either by plane, or by 1 hour boat trip then 3-4 hours walk up the side of a mountain or by a much longer 3-4 hour trip in a landrover and 1-2 hour walk after to the point we were "trespassing". I really really really really hoped that the police would come. But that was just lies to scare us off. I gave the individuals my telephone number and address but have heard nothing yet about the trespassing. I am proud to say I kept walking to the trig. Having reached the mid peak, father looked after his granddaughter and we did not subject to her to further. I walked mostly along the track the thugs had quickly worn into the high plateau tussock and I had the older thug and his boy on their quad, about 1 metre behind me abusing me all the way. The abuse never stopped, questioning my motives, insulting me and telling me he had some supposed ties with the land I was not respecting. What was I doing wrong by using a public right of way that had been formed over 100 years. I was exercising my right as a New Zealander to respectfully roam across our beautiful landscape. And because of that I was being physically intimidated, abused and threatened.
So excuse my cynicism if I say so much of this brow and chest beating and talk about Maori sacred ties with the land is just so much self serving nonsense, so much playing on "white guilt". It is rent seeking, nothing more, nothing less. I have no problem with someone running a commercial enterprise but dont tell me they are doing it for higher "spiritual" motives. If you spiritually value your land you dont rent it out to some thug who employs morons to physically threaten and intimidate people who also have a call on the land. If you read this and you are Te Arawa or Ngati Rangitihi then I call you a disgrace to your ancesteors and to the spirituality of the land.
So if I have any suggestion for National it is to carry on with your blunt speaking. Enough. Stop the bull. All New Zealanders are being conned out of our birthright by the pious call to spiritualism and politically correct rubbish being spouted by those who support the painter and her hammer.
If you want to allow all New Zealanders to be bullied and harrassed out of our birthright by rent seeking Maori with a gift for the gab and their revisionist view of history then just do nothing and get trampled.
UPDATE: Sage senior wishes to point out that he got up and down the mountain in fine fettle and is still completely capable of journalistic endeavour. His hospital adventure was unassociated with the effort of climbing the mountain.