Bay of Plenty Times
Tauranga ructions follow waka-load of grievances
It’s a tough job protecting such long-held Tauranga values, but the council’s old guard seem committed.
When the Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, Foreign Affairs and associate Minister of Ma¯ori Development makes her decision abouthowto restore order in Tauranga
City Council she will need awaka-load of compassion.
For a start, there’s
Tenby Powellwho lastweekresigned after 15 “souldestroying” months as the city’s mayor.
Powell had a 4000-vote majoritywhen he claimed the mayoral chain and at the start he jubilantly said “the people have spoken, it’s time for the old guard to let go”. In spite of his military background, he didn’t see the trenches until itwas too late.
The old guard entrenched in the council chambers for generations were going nowhere, but itmaybe that they also needsomeof Nanaia’s compassion.
After all, they are protecting their community— atauranga community which aims to defend the city from liberal invaders, like Powell or fromma¯ori “riding the Treaty gravy train” or anyone else they see as different from themselves.
It’s a tough job protecting such long-held Tauranga values, but the council’s old guardseem committed.
Defending and protecting the status quo must be especially hard whenyou are also being paid to efficiently govern the country’s fastest-growing city.
Nanaia’s compassion cannot fix the $2 billion shortfall in capital projects and over $33 million of ratepayers’money wasted through bad council decisions. She cannot fix the past but she can have compassion for all those Tauranga families affected by what has becomea fiscal disaster.
Idonot speak for tangatawhenua of Taurangamoana but as tangata whenua, and today I feel optimistic that she will also have compassion for us.
As aminority population in our ownrohe and coming from three distinctive iwi, wehave— through raupatu/confiscations and Public Works takings— inadvertently provided the lands uponwhich this city ofmore than 150,000 continues to grow.
Tosaywehave been economically disadvantaged by the actions of Tauranga City Council would be an understatement.
Oneexample from one ofmy hapu¯, Nga¯i Te Ahi, was in 1965when 40ha wastaken for “the public good” to build awater plant. Four hectares was used for the plant; the remainder was sold by the council for profit.
Fast-forward 55 years andwe have our latest example, involving a 100mbus lane.
In August, whilewewere in Covid alert level 2, Tauranga City Council passed a bylaw to formalise the lane through the suburb of Hairini, home to our Nga¯i Te Ahi marae and papakainga, effectively blocking off one end of the street.
The council had already installed a traffic camera so after two months started fining all traffic, $150 a pop, apart from buses.
It said thiswas a safety issue, but it has alsobecomea tidy source of passive income generation.
Twoyears before— prior to
Powell’s arrival— andafter the road had already been blocked and the bus lane setupready to trial, a single public meetingwas held. Locals were angry and shocked. At the meeting, Tcctransport manager, Martin Parkes admitted: “Normally we’d go through a lengthy consultation process. But therewas an opportunity and in the transport world, whenthese opportunities comeup, sometimes you’ve got to take them.”
Transport manager John Mccarthy offered: “If you don’t like it, moveout of Tauranga.” While he acknowledged after the meeting it was a “flippant comment“, thatwas the consultation process in action.
Badly planned roading has plagued us for years. State Highway 29 separates us from our urupa¯ and half of ourwha¯nau. Although the council says the Hairini Bus Lane is adone deal, we, the people, Ma¯ori and non-ma¯ori, disagree. We’ve had enough and started a petition“we Deserve Respectfromtauranga City Council”.
For the first time— with Nanaia Mahuta’s help and compassion— there is a real chancewewill all get whatwedeserve.