Our real trea­sures?

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

I was in­ter­ested re­cently, when the an­nual Rich List was pub­lished, that those whose in­comes are the high­est in the coun­try were de­scribed as ‘‘na­tional trea­sures’’.

Re­ally? Why? Just be­cause they have man­aged to ac­quire, by what­ever means, heaps more money than the rank and file in the com­mu­nity? Just be­cause they have bil­lions or mere mil­lions in their bank ac­counts?

Does this fact nec­es­sar­ily pro­duce a ‘‘na­tional trea­sure’’? I think not.

Let’s face it. The na­ture of the hu­man be­ing is to ac­quire – money, sta­tus, goods, the at­ten­tion of the op­po­site sex, drugs, what­ever. The more one has, the more one tends to want, whether or not that more is nec­es­sary.

What do these su­per-rich do with all their mil­lions, any­way?

There is only so much you can spend, I would have thought. Cer­tainly, there are some who, be­sides be­ing su­per-rich, are su­per-gen­er­ous and are note­wor­thy for their sup­port of those less for­tu­nate. They surely are trea­sures. But for the rest? They are only rich.

So, who would I con­sider a ‘‘na­tional trea­sure’’?

How about the Mad Butcher who, de­spite health prob­lems, rushes around the coun­try rais­ing money for the likes of Christchurch? Def­i­nitely.

Then there are those thou­sands of vol­un­teers without whom the ma­jor­ity of our not­for-profit aid agen­cies would fall over. And what about those who im­prove the out­look of the less for­tu­nate by sim­ply smil­ing at them, talk­ing to them and gen­er­ally treat­ing them as peo­ple in­stead of blights on our so­ci­ety?

Add to these the peo­ple who have lit­tle but nev­er­the­less make the ef­fort to send money to emer­gency sit­u­a­tions in our coun­try and around the world.

In the area of trea­sures, the Maori have it right, of course.

A taonga is some­thing or some­one with a spir­i­tual sig­nif­i­cance, an at­tribute mere money can never have. Yet, as Max Lerner wrote: ‘‘ In our cul­ture we make heroes of the men who sit on top of a heap of money, and we pay at­ten­tion not only to what they say in their field of com­pe­tence, but to their wis­dom on ev­ery other ques­tion in the world.’’

Money, or the ac­qui­si­tion of it, can be seen as the be-all and end-all of many of our hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties.

I could cite the Rugby World Cup (I hope I don’t get sued for us­ing those hal­lowed words!) as an ex­am­ple.

What is all the hype about, re­ally? Is it the rugby, the sports­man­ship, the ri­valry, or even the tro­phy?

In essence, no.

It is all about mak­ing as much money as pos­si­ble – es­pe­cially for the In­ter­na­tional Rugby Board, but that’s an­other ar­gu­ment.

Ev­ery­one con­nected to the RWC – tourism op­er­a­tors, travel agents, ac­com­mo­da­tion own­ers, sell­ers of All Black looka­like jer­seys, and so on, ap­pears to be hik­ing up the prices to make the high­est profit pos­si­ble through this ‘‘his­toric’’ event.

Cer­tainly, money or its equiv­a­lent is nec­es­sary for us to sur­vive in this world. But we have so many more important things to re­gard as trea­sures.

There are true friends, for in­stance, and chil­dren. There is our multi-cul­tural com­mu­nity. There is our beau­ti­ful phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

Some­times I think we have our pri­or­i­ties all wrong.

Per­haps we should ap­pre­ci­ate our real trea­sure, then maybe we wouldn’t make heroes out of those who have lots of money and miss the taonga touch­ing our lives ev­ery day.

The speaker at this month’s Grey Power meet­ing is Bren­dan Wil­son from the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.

Are you, like me, mys­ti­fied by the dif­fer­ences be­tween the vot­ing options be­ing of­fered by ref­er­enda at the next elec­tion?

Come and find out how each sys­tem works, so you can de­cide which op­tion to se­lect, come Novem­ber 26.

Date: Tues­day Sept 13. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Pl, Porirua. Con­tact: He­len Grif­fith 236 0112.

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