We shifted to a new block partly be­cause of this ex­pe­ri­ence... you may have spot­ted the irony.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - THE GOOD LIFE -

lovely place we’d spent so many evenings en­joy­ing. As vil­lagers we’d have ap­proved of the walk­way, but as river-bankers we’d have been dev­as­tated.

You may have spot­ted the irony. I of­ten lament the Tragedy of the Com­mons, where things which were com­mu­nal­ly­owned be­come pri­va­tised. In this in­stance, we’d ‘pri­va­tised’ the river bank which the com­mu­nity then re­pos­sessed. I guess I should have been pleased.

And so it goes. There is no way to per­ma­nently safe­guard our cho­sen places or ways of life. “The price of free­dom is eternal vig­i­lance,” is a fa­mous quote (of­ten in­cor­rectly at­trib­uted to US Pres­i­dent Thomas Jef­fer­son), but En­vi­ron­ment Court out­comes don’t nec­es­sar­ily favour the vig­i­lant. In­stead, there’s a ten­dency to favour the best-funded ef­fort and that of­ten turns out to be the party threat­en­ing change. It’s easy to see why; nine times out of 10, the party want­ing a change ex­pects to profit from it. Those de­fend­ing them­selves have to fund their de­fence from their cur­rent­ly­commit­ted pri­vate bud­gets.

Even if we ‘own’ our sur­round­ing habi­tat – as life­style block own­ers like to think we do – we can be dis­placed at the stroke of a bu­reau­cratic pen, and the things we are al­lowed to do can be sim­i­larly lim­ited. Our con­trol over what hap­pens out­side our fences can be com­pro­mised even more, and I’ve lost count of the fights I’ve wit­nessed where folk just wanted to pre­serve their par­tic­u­lar ‘sta­tus quo’. I’ve seen them up and leave, wit­nessed oth­ers get bought out by com­mer­cial oper­a­tions (which viewed the buy-out as their cheap­est op­tion), and watched peo­ple live with a re­duced qual­ity of life rather than leave.

We all make an im­pact our­selves too. I can re­mem­ber when there were about five farm­houses on the hills around our vil­lage. Look out into the evening nowa­days and that once-dark­ness has be­come twin­kle town over a 30-year pe­riod. Each new ar­rival has liked the peace and quiet, but every­one has built a new house (we did this our­selves) and so for­ever al­tered the amenity that ear­lier folk came for. Carry it on to its il­log­i­cal con­clu­sion and that in­fill­ing ends in subur­bia, which is pre­sum­ably what the early folk were es­cap­ing. Every­one in that process will likely re­sent the ‘next’ change.

Na­tion­ally, our so­ci­ety has gone Nimby to many of the man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries that we ac­cepted one or two gen­er­a­tions ago. They’re now con­ve­niently over­seas, yet we hap­pily ac­cept their ben­e­fits. On a more lo­cal scale, we don’t want prisons, land­fills, re­cy­cling plants or abat­toirs any­where near us, yet we ap­prove of them (be­cause we need them) as long as they are

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