We are grateful, of course, for whenever our elected officials – including our iwi (Māori peoples’) authorities – act to protect what we value and to create environmental, social, cultural and economic wealth.
However, regardless of this or that isolated bureaucratic-level action, the better quality question is what are the net environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits/ risks of all accumulated action over the medium to long-term accruing back to We, The People? Are those the kind of net benefits we need (or on the flip-side, are those net risks acceptable)?
The answer will depend on what’s currently happening in our communities, our country, our world.
In an “all things being equal” Age for example where our environment is healthy and the economy is ‘relatively’ stable (setting aside the inherent instability of neo liberal capitalistic economics for a moment!), we have the luxury of time where a predominant focus on economic industrial ‘development’ (that continues to commodify natural resources and externalize the costs of production onto our environment and society) might continue to be tolerated (sadly).
But our communities and our entire nation are now facing severe climate crisis threats, including to ourwater security. We are in an existential 6th mass extinction Anthropocene Age which is demonstrably unstable and highly uncertain. We need to shift the balance of governance (including iwi authority) imperatives: we need to prioritize creating community resilience, including:
- Complete climate crisis audits of all communities,
- Design effective risk mitigation/ adaption plans, and opportunity response plans, identified from those audits,
- Take a ‘whole of society’ approach to collaboratively and urgently activating those plans.
Local community campaigners and tangata whenua fought staunchly in a voluntary unfunded capacity to defend te mana o te wai (the mauri, health and integrity of water) and the human right to water for everyone’s benefit. Apparently, our society is OK that those with the least (and who are hurt the most by political decisions to violate their human rights) are using what precious little they have to fight the ‘good fight’. Therefore, I grieve for the fact that, despite such dedicated flaxroots efforts, our iwi authority (who, in trust on our behalf, manages significant assets belonging to We, The People) remained ‘neutral’ and declined to visibly and actively support us.
But understand: there is in truth no ‘neutral’. Neutrality (so-called) means you’re not actively seeking change. On the contrary, you’re siding with the status quo – in this case the industrial horticultural extraction of water from our aquifer for private corporate profit (which is why, incidentally, I mourn whānau who don’t vote under a corrupt government, because their non-voting helps maintain that same government in power).
Therefore, people (whether benefactors of their affiliated iwi authorities, or constituencies of elected officials generally) should be very disturbed at that critical organizational failure. Consider also that this may be symptomatic of a deeper systemic imbalance of economic, social, environmental and cultural values. Only by addressing that root dysfunction will civil society make the urgent progress we need at this critical juncture.
People everywhere have every right to mobilize and seek accountability for such impotency and inaction, and I strenuously encourage citizens to do so. Stand up, and make your voice heard.