The Mt Albert fascinating cultural fiasco, the Lorax as the Grand Cyclops of the KKK and how social media killed civics

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The fascinating cultural fiasco occurring at Mt Albert over the chopping down of 345 trees would be hilarious if it didn’t nudge at something deeply broken in our civics discourse.

You honestly can’t write satire that could reflect this.

Let me start by saying that I love our Volcanic Cones in Auckland. I love walking up as many as I can, I live directly on the side of one of them and every time I stand at one of their summits I can feel the history of these magnificent treasures wash over me.

I also believe that it is absolutely righteous that they all came under the co-governance of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority as the rightful guardians of these amazing gifts and am thrilled by their plans to replant every one with native fauna as an incredibly exciting initiative that will truly make these places unique oasis of environmental and cultural value.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut

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I also like trees in general and think the total destruction of 345 seems a tad over zealous and wonder if a staged replanting and cutting could be facilitated?

My opinions however are meaningless in the orgy of cultural one upping that has suddenly erupted.

Pakeha locals who feel a special spiritual connection to Mt Albert and love the trees have co-opted Māori values (including learning the language and evoking Air NZ waka) to lay claim to their own mana whenua status and the resulting outrage has just been spectacular.

That awkward and hilarious moment when Pakeha learn the language and the spiritual connection to the land and use it against Maori

I’m loving the vitriolic hatred spat at Pakeha over Ōwairaka by the Woke on Twitter who have concluded that this is a cultural appropriation on meth and have denounced the protestors as cross burning racists.

I think on the Left as a movement we’ve lost all ability to win people over & seek only to belittle & denigrate rather than recruit. These misguided white folk have embraced Maori culture & don’t want trees cut down, they aren’t the KKK.

Twitter’s woke response can be summed up as, “How dare you racist crackers adopt the cultural values we’ve screamed at you to adopt for decades”.

Of course you can’t use mana whenua status to over ride the rights of actual mana whenua, but that cultural misunderstanding isn’t evidence of racism, it’s a confusion of identity as Pakeha seek to adopt and learn from Māori, to belittle them for that however is all we are capable of doing now as a movement.

I think social media has turned out to be the single worst thing to ever happen to civics discourse. Ideas are no longer argued, it’s who can insult the other most, who can hate the other most, who can denigrate the most.

Sick burns have replaced eloquent argument as a million angry factions all scream at each other all at once.

The latest TVNZ Poll surprised many that National & ACT could form a Government because Politics under social media isn’t about ideas anymore, it’s about who you hate most and how the art of personal insult creates personal grudges. We say things online to each other we would never say to their faces and because it is permanent online forever, the bitter indignation festers and people release it in private at the Polling booth just to spite the person who offended them.

The Alt-Right and the Woke will end up doing more damage to our civics than all the barbarians in Christendom.

We are entering the Age of Resentment, may plagues visit all your houses.

 

 

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t closely followed the progress of this dispute, and while I agree in principle that as far as we reasonably can we should revert to indigenous flora, I am not antagonistic to the sentiments of those who would like the process to take place more slowly or be more limited in its scope.
    The fact is that over the past two and a half centuries Maori have taken to many exotic plants, animals, technologies and spiritual beliefs. Even in the depths of Te Urewera you will find European tree species planted by Tuhoe and accorded special status by them. That is not going to be undone, but the balance will shift back and the only question future generations will ask themselves is “Why did it not happen sooner?”.
    Now Pakeha are adopting Maori cultural practices and opening themselves to te ao Maori, even to the extent that when they dispute with Maori they dispute in the Maori way.
    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like confrontation particularly when it becomes abusive, vicious or mean-spirited. But when I see Pakeha following Maori ways even in disputing with Maori, then I have enormous hope and confidence in our future as a people. As far as possible the land, and especially the maunga of Tamaki makau rau should be restored to an indigenous state. But Pakeha will also have their voice and it will be respected. We can work through these issues constructively if we do it in the Maori way.

  2. Gee thats strong words Martyn.
    We need to realise that the youth within maoridom have been radical-ised to hate the establishment with some merit.

    As a boy in 1950’s I went live in a small suburb of napier after living in Wairoa which was a heavily populated maori region and found maori eleders very gentle folks we learned to love and respect.

    The elders knew then how to capture the hearts and minds of pakeka with love. Enough said.

  3. It was never about Pakeha becoming mana whenua – it was about giving Maori guardianship status then refusing to allow guardianship when it was not what you wanted. 150 years ago those trees were planted but for the previous thousand years the mountain had native plants on it. What is the issue about returning the land to its native state? Is it because native are straggly and do not conform to European ideas of order and beauty. To be honest if they wish for regimented trees and English country gardens then these are available 24/7 in England. We need trees in NZ that cope with NZ conditions and do not fall over and hurt people because their root structure doesn’t cope so well.

    • Lucy van Hout: “…. it was about giving Maori guardianship status then refusing to allow guardianship when it was not what you wanted.”

      No. The people protesting about the clear-felling of Mt Albert aren’t the same people who gave Maori the guardianship role. That would have been as a consequence of a Treaty settlement.

      “150 years ago those trees were planted but for the previous thousand years the mountain had native plants on it.”

      No doubt a great deal longer than that – unless, of course, the eruption of Rangitoto laid that area to waste.

      “Is it because native are straggly and do not conform to European ideas of order and beauty.”

      It seems to me that you’re attributing motives to the protesters that they haven’t themselves articulated and likely don’t have. They like, and feel a connection to, the existing trees; doubtless the local birdlife will also like them. Birds don’t care if the trees in which they nest are native or exotic: in our neighbourhood, the self-seeded Norfolk pines are home to rather a lot of tui, grey warblers and kereru, along with blackbirds, starlings and song thrushes.

      “We need trees in NZ that cope with NZ conditions and do not fall over and hurt people because their root structure doesn’t cope so well.”

      I suspect that you don’t know too much about trees. To be sure, pines will fall over when they grow old; but the majority of the pines grown in NZ are Monterey pines. Not English. As for trees that fall over, it’d be Australian trees which do that; they tend to be shallow-rooting, on account of they’re adapted to Australian soil conditions. In Australia, eucalypts are also known as “widow-makers”, because of their tendency to drop branches without warning. They do that here as well.

      Some years back, here in Wellington, we had a ferocious storm: bad even by Wellington standards. All over the city, it was Australian trees which were skittled by the wind. Not the English trees.

  4. Lack of consultation by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority appears as a common theme since their assumption of co-goverance. The problem seems exacerbated by the council taking a passive role in representing the interests of Aucklander’s. (Although this seems to be their normal position in every other instance on other matters, so it comes as no surprise). One could say that co-goverence appears to have morphed into ownership with many commentators now stating that the Maunga are no longer public land. Since the general tree protection rules were repealed, Auckland has lost more than 28% of its tree cover. Given the longer growing time of native trees a graduated replacement program would have presented a more pleasing landscape during the project, not withstanding difficulties created by canopy trees. Instead we will get a denuded windswept expanse. At the end of the day, the authority seem to be in charge. If they want to commit ecological vandalism when a better approach is available, let them go ahead. So far in this country necessary reconciliation and compensation has been achieved without acrimony. This needs to be the way we move ahead.

    • Alan: “Lack of consultation by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority appears as a common theme since their assumption of co-goverance.”

      So it seems. Most unfortunate; had they consulted the local community at all, they’d no doubt have found a wealth of specialised knowledge, along with a willingness to assist. It does look as if they’re determined to cut out pakeha input completely. And that won’t work in the long term: we ain’t going anywhere….

      “Given the longer growing time of native trees a graduated replacement program would have presented a more pleasing landscape during the project, not withstanding difficulties created by canopy trees. Instead we will get a denuded windswept expanse.”

      I agree. And it’s likely that many of the seedlings and saplings planted will not even survive, let alone thrive. What the Authority is proposing to do seems like ecological vandalism to me as well; very perverse behaviour from a group of people who claim to be good guardians of the land and its resources.

  5. Dont trust that bloody Paul Majurey. He a slimy bastard. Just look at the 12 iwi hes trying to screw over in the Marutuahu Collective and the Hauraki Overlapping Claims.

    He’s a mongrel.

  6. “How dare you racist crackers adopt the cultural values we’ve screamed at you to adopt for decades”.”

    I think the same thing might be happening with Te Reo. While non-Maori are being enthusiastically encouraged to learn Te Reo, they are in fact unknowingly walking into a minefield

    • esoteric pineapples: “While non-Maori are being enthusiastically encouraged to learn Te Reo, they are in fact unknowingly walking into a minefield”

      I suspect that you’re right about this. A lot of years ago, I learned to speak te reo. My proficiency wasn’t received with unbridled enthusiasm by many Maori I knew and worked with. Nobody actually SAID “cultural appropriation” – I don’t think the term had been coined at that time – but that surely was an approximation of what they were thinking.

  7. I’ve been a gardener for as long as I can remember. Setting aside any issues of culture, I’m simply astonished at the approach to tree removal taken by the Tupuna Maunga Authority. What on earth are they THINKING?

    Gardeners know that mature trees provide canopy protection for seedlings and saplings; that’s how forests work, for heaven’s sake! When we first came to live at this property, 25 or so years ago, the bank at the back of our property was covered in that unwanted immigrant: gorse. In many parts of Wellington, the gorse is still there, but on our property, it’s gone. We have native plants of various descriptions instead. We planted none of them: the seeds were brought by the birds and the wind.

    Gorse is known to also provide protection for re-emerging native trees and shrubs; once said native plants grow large enough, they crowd out the gorse. This is what’s happened on our bank.

    I don’t have any issue with pest trees – sycamores here in Wellington, for instance – being cut down. But for the life of me, I fail to see why old trees should be felled, simply because they’re not native.

    And to clear-fell 345 trees is completely bonkers. By the looks of it, Mt Albert has the same problem with kikuyu as the rest of Auckland; that being so, I’d guess that many of the replacement seedlings and saplings will be choked out by the kikuyu; and if workers attempt to trim it around said saplings, chances are they’ll trim the saplings as well. I’ve seen it happen…

    If the Authority is set on the course of removing every non-native tree, it’d be better by far to plant saplings near to each tree, and fell the mature trees only when the native plantings are large enough.

    “Pakeha locals who feel a special spiritual connection to Mt Albert and love the trees have co-opted Māori values (including learning the language and evoking Air NZ waka) to lay claim to their own mana whenua status and the resulting outrage has just been spectacular.
    I’m loving the vitriolic hatred spat at Pakeha over Ōwairaka by the Woke on Twitter who have concluded that this is a cultural appropriation on meth and have denounced the protestors as cross burning racists.”

    I agree: it’s hilarious and also an unedifying spectacle. It eloquently illustrates the fact that pakeha feel as much connection to this country as do Maori. Scarcely surprising, really: why wouldn’t we?

    “Twitter’s woke response can be summed up as, “How dare you racist crackers adopt the cultural values we’ve screamed at you to adopt for decades”.”

    Haha….jeez! Damned if we do and damned if we don’t, huh?

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