‘An egre­gious calamity’

The Southland Times - - Opinion - Satire An­drew Gunn Ni­col Hor­rell

Sir David At­ten­bor­ough, the renowned nat­u­ral­ist and broad­caster, has to­day an­nounced he is giv­ing up on warn­ing of the im­mi­nent col­lapse of civil­i­sa­tion due to cli­mate change and in­stead will fo­cus on com­plain­ing about the traf­fic-flow problems on Manch­ester St and the PC-gone­mad way Santa is be­ing por­trayed lately.

Ear­lier this week Sir David had is­sued an im­pas­sioned plea for ac­tion on cli­mate change, say­ing: ‘‘Right now we are fac­ing a man­made dis­as­ter of global scale, our great­est threat in thou­sands of years’’, a plea that was met with a col­lec­tive ‘‘meh’’ and the sound of mass shrug­ging.

Since then, Sir David ex­plained, he had been lis­ten­ing to talk­back ra­dio and comb­ing through the let­ters-to-the-ed­i­tor pages and on­line com­ment sec­tions for re­ac­tions to his warn­ing.

In do­ing so had ex­pe­ri­enced, in his own words, a ‘‘grid­locked-roadto-Da­m­as­cus rev­e­la­tion’’.

‘‘Lis­ten­ing and read­ing it sud­denly struck me that, judg­ing by the in­ten­sity of emo­tion ex­pressed, the great­est threat to hu­man­ity is not ris­ing sea lev­els, cat­a­strophic crop fail­ure and dwin­dling bio­di­ver­sity.

It is, in­stead, the im­mi­nent ex­tinc­tion of the abil­ity to drive a car down a par­tic­u­lar city street with­out be­ing held up, on some oc­ca­sions, for many min­utes at a time.

‘‘Oh, and also those so­cial en­gi­neer­ing snowflakes who think Santa can be a woman, or dare to wear some­thing other than the out­fit that Coca-Cola dreamt up in 1931.

‘‘These are clearly the is­sues in the fore­front of mankind’s col­lec­tive con­scious­ness,’’ Sir David went on.

‘‘So be it. From now on un­til my last dy­ing breath I shall make it my mis­sion to high­light the plight of those poor souls stuck in the north­bound lane be­tween Here­ford and Worces­ter sts for up to three phases of lights.’’

Sir David then an­nounced the pro­duc­tion of an epic 12-part se­ries, Life On Manch­ester St, which will use state-of-the-art slow-mo­tion videog­ra­phy to doc­u­ment the im­po­tent, apoplec­tic rage of a mo­torist who chose not to cross the CBD via the one-way sys­tem and is now be­ing passed by a bus.

‘‘This, I fully in­tend, will be my mag­num opus,’’ Sir David in­toned, ‘‘cap­tur­ing what surely must rank as the most egre­gious calamity of our time, along with kids’ Christ­mases be­ing ru­ined by in­tro­duc­ing them to an­other in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a to­tally imag­i­nary char­ac­ter.

‘‘Well, that’s what An­gry of Sprey­don and that columnist I read last week say, any­way.’’

Sir David’s sen­ti­ments are set to be echoed by Her Majesty The Queen, who in a sneak pre­view of this year’s Christ­mas Mes­sage, pays trib­ute to the en­raged vic­tims of the Manch­ester St traf­fic plan­ning fiasco.

‘‘At this time of year es­pe­cially,’’ she will say, ‘‘one’s thoughts turn to those who are less priv­i­leged than one­self.

‘‘A case in point are the un­for­tu­nates who through no fault of their own get stuck be­hind a car at­tempt­ing a left-hand turn into Glouces­ter St.

‘‘I am sure you will join with me in wish­ing them a bet­ter and less con­gested 2019. Se­ri­ously, what a bum­mer.’’

As I flew back into South­land last week­end from a re­gional sec­tor meet­ing in New Ply­mouth, look­ing down on the emer­ald patch­work quilt of the South­land plains, I re­flected on how good it al­ways is to come home, and how well the re­gion is look­ing with an ex­cep­tional grow­ing sea­son so far.

My ar­rival back in In­ver­cargill co­in­cided with an­other suc­cess­ful In­ver­cargill Santa pa­rade last week­end. It is prob­a­bly dawn­ing on many of us that an­other year has al­most flown by. Why is it that the last month of the year al­ways seems to be the most fre­netic?

For the first time in some years En­vi­ron­ment South­land had a float in the In­ver­cargill Santa pa­rade, which along with our pres­ence at the Wyn­d­ham A&P Show on Satur­day, launched the start of our en­gage­ment cam­paign to un­der­stand what Southlanders value about fresh­wa­ter, called ‘‘Share Your Wai’’.

This will con­tinue right through un­til March, with staff and coun­cil­lors go­ing out to var­i­ous events and ask­ing you to fill out a short sur­vey and of­fer­ing you the op­tion of go­ing into a prize draw. You can also con­trib­ute (and en­ter) on­line at www.havey­our­say.es.govt.nz.

This en­gage­ment is part of our Peo­ple, Wa­ter and Land pro­gramme, which is be­ing de­vel­oped and de­liv­ered in part­ner­ship with Te Ao Marama Inc. (the en­vi­ron­men­tal arm of Nga¯ i Tahu ki Muri­hiku)

The pro­gramme has two ma­jor planks. One is im­ple­men­ta­tion – get­ting things hap­pen­ing on the ground.

This will in­volve staff sup­port­ing groups and in­di­vid­u­als car­ry­ing out a wide range of projects and ini­tia­tives that will ul­ti­mately and cu­mu­la­tively have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on wa­ter qual­ity.

The Gov­ern­ment’s re­cent an­nounce­ment of the One Bil­lion Trees Pro­gramme, with fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for plant­ing and fenc­ing na­tive and ex­otic trees, has the po­ten­tial to boost the plant­ing of ri­par­ian ar­eas, cre­at­ing or restor­ing wet­lands and plant­ings in un­pro­duc­tive gul­lies.

To qual­ify, the area must be a min­i­mum of one hectare (and in some cases a min­i­mum of 5ha), for an es­tab­lish­ment grant of $4000 per hectare for na­tives and $1500 for ex­otics.

A guide with the de­tails is avail­able on­line, www.teu­ru­rakau.govt.nz or via www.mpi.govt.nz.

The other plank of our Peo­ple, Wa­ter and Land pro­gramme re­volves around set­ting up a re­gional fo­rum. Its role will be to ad­vise our coun­cil on ways to meet the com­mu­ni­ties’ as­pi­ra­tions and ob­jec­tives for fresh­wa­ter – through both on-the-ground ac­tions and rules.

In do­ing so, the fo­rum will need to con­sider the im­pacts on the com­mu­nity, plus eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal, cul­tural and so­cial im­pacts.

An­other im­por­tant as­pect will be ad­vice on the time frame needed to achieve those goals and to in­form the limit-set­ting process for dis­charges to, and ab­strac­tions from, wa­ter­ways.

We will be­gin advertising for ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for po­ten­tial fo­rum mem­bers be­fore Christ­mas, with the closing date likely to be in early Fe­bru­ary.

So if you’re in­ter­ested or know some­one who could rep­re­sent the var­i­ous views of the com­mu­nity, keep an eye out for the ads or speak to one of our staff or coun­cil­lors when they are out at com­mu­nity places for the Share Your Wai cam­paign.

We also plan to have pub­lic meet­ings in the new year to ex­plain the fo­rum’s pur­pose and en­cour­age peo­ple to put their names for­ward.

The fo­rum’s mem­ber­ship will need to have a good bal­ance that can re­flect the views of the en­tire South­land re­gion rather than rep­re­sent­ing any par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est group.

This means fo­rum mem­bers will need to be com­mu­nity peo­ple who have the time and the abil­ity to carry out the role, and who have the best in­ter­ests of South­land at heart.

On Thurs­day I at­tended the of­fi­cial re-open­ing of the fourth pot line at the Ti­wai alu­minium smelter, and the open­ing of the new veni­son pro­cess­ing plant at the Al­liance farm gate Lorneville site.

These are both very pos­i­tive mile­stones for South­land.

One thing they have in com­mon is that they are mov­ing much of their prod­uct into high value niche mar­kets, pro­vid­ing the con­fi­dence to ex­pand their ca­pac­ity, which augers well for the fu­ture.

As this will be my last col­umn for the year, I would like to wish you a safe and happy Christ­mas hol­i­day time, where hope­fully you will get a few days off be­fore the next year be­gins.

If we can cap­ture the at­mos­phere of good­will and sup­port that was ev­i­dent at the In­ver­cargill Santa pa­rade I’m sure South­land will be in a good place to han­dle any chal­lenges the new year brings.

❚ Ni­col Hor­rell is the chair of En­vi­ron­ment South­land

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