Rights must be earned

Let’s care for our peo­ple and our place

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA FEATURES -

Ev­ery year the chal­lenges is­sued at Wai­tangi Marae get me re­think­ing what it means to be a New Zealan­der. The hard ques­tions about how we can all live well in this land are still on the ta­ble. Ev­ery year I face tough choices about how much time and en­ergy I amwill­ing to put into mak­ing my world a bet­ter place. It’s eas­ier than ever to drift into the trap of think­ing I could just shop my way to hap­pi­ness. We used to be cit­i­zens who lived to­gether in a so­ci­ety. Nowa­days we are cus­tomers liv­ing in some­one else’s econ­omy. We used to take pride in our egal­i­tar­ian na­tion. Nowa­days the gap be­tween our rich­est and our poor­est peo­ple is wide and grow­ing. We talk a good line in 100 per cent pure, but we don’t fill our wa­ter bot­tles out of our rivers any­more. Wai­tangi Day brings my work­ing class an­ces­tors to mind. They came here look­ing for a bet­ter life. My favourite great aunts were suf­fragettes. They got me the vote. My childhood he­roes fought so or­di­nary kids like me could get a de­cent ed­u­ca­tion for free. They put them­selves on the picket lines so I could earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. And they sailed out in lit­tle boats so my kids can live in nu­clear-free Aotearoa. When you have the lux­ury of liv­ing in a coun­try where our state broad­caster spends half an hour ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing mock­ing each po­lit­i­cal party in turn, it’s easy to take the joys of democ­racy for granted. Our ci­ti­zen­ship has been hard won. The right to call this place home comes with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. We earn that right by in­vest­ing our time and en­ergy in car­ing for our peo­ple and our place. It’s a twoway thing. ◗ Sue Coutts lives in Hawea Flat, man­ages Wanaka Waste­busters and is in­ter­ested in al­most ev­ery­thing.

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