Today our recently elected National government announced it's plans to begin to dismantle the Resource Management Act. Developed in the 1970's and 80's with growing world wide recognition of environmental awareness, and put forth as legislation by the Labour government in 1989, it was underpinned on the concepts of sustainable management and the integrated management of resources, in other words the balance between protection of the environment and development. Interesting in an historical perspective that the Labour government was outed in 1990, yet in 1991 the National government, with many alterations, passed the RMA into being. Today, the same National government seeks to dismantle it. Developers and business groups are welcoming the changes with open arms, power companies no doubt frothing at the mouth at the prospect of all those rivers and mountain ranges to be exploited, and farmers are hailing it as "a good start". Interesting to me is that these groups claim the legislation is so restrictive and time consuming in involving local councils, and god help us, citizen input from the local communities, that "projects" become bogged down in the "red tape". Yet out of an average of 50,000 applied for environmental consents each year 74% of those submissions WITHOUT public comment are processed on time, and 56% WITH public participation are also done on time, which is a 1 to 4 month time frame. How big of a problem is that really?
In these economically troubled times our government, duly elected, sees it best to stimulate the
need for development and growth by sacrificing the need to protect and look after the environment for future generations. Sustainability is now open to becoming a flood gate for making money and no doubt many are rubbing their greedy hands in glee.
Which brings me to an update on the wind farm project of which so many of you supported my opposition to going ahead with. While there has been a stir created, and ripples made on large pond, I am afraid at the end of the day it is all tilting at windmills. The National government has "called in" the Turitea project, effectively removing decision making away from the local councils and deeming it a "project of national significance". Mighty River has reduced the number of projected turbines by 9 out of 100 plus, and has put forth a very self serving campaign as to their intentions and caring for our communities. Meridian Energy, in on the Puketoi and Waitahora schemes today announced a 6% price rise, their second in 6 months, in spite of making a 128 million dollar profit last year. Needed for new power generation investment they say. Just who will be paying for these wind farms, and who will be taking the profits paid for by the users I might write? In any case those projects are also in danger of being "called in", though I have read of being notified of a public meeting sometime this month. Let me be clear, it is not wind power I am against, it is rather sustaining the unsustainable I object to, simply revenue generators and future tax credit symbols for the power companies who then rob us blind.
There has been much public interest in this issue, strong feeling on both sides. I have had clients refuse to work with me for my opposition to these wind farms. So be it. I have to write what I believe, I have to be a voice for wild places. A common phrase I keep hearing in the business
world is "I am not here to make friends, I am here to make money", well I write "I am not here to make money, but to help save the earth, and it just happens I have made some friends".
There is also a lingering sense of disconnection that hovers around me. This inherent disconnection we as the human race are seemingly developing to Nature, to one another. The fact that the solutions to our economic problems always seem to be in attacking Nature, in creating more and more of what has gotten us here in the first place. A few days ago I read a post written by my friend Maithri. Maithri's place is well worth visiting for the work he does and the message he puts forth, http://soaringimpulse.blogspot.com/ , but his particular post tells, and shows a little story of a classically trained musician playing a Stradivarius violin in a New York subway for 45 minutes. Over a thousand people walked by him as this stunning music pours forth. Seven people stop to listen, seven! It made me think of the importance of music in my life, in our lives, the sheer beauty of it, yet how disconnected we become to that in our busy lives. I wonder how many of those people were "connected" to music through ipod ear plugs? Or late for that important meeting, or not stopping as it is not the sort of music we are "into"? How many street musicians have I wandered by without a second thought to the music? Music surrounds us from morning till night, yet how often do we actually Listen?
It made me recall the above evening with my friend Adam, and Tara's brother Davey. Adam, a classically trained violinist with a passion for the Irish fiddle, and Davey a classically trained guitarist never having played Irish music ever before. Not long before I had lent him a few blue grass albums as he loved the picking and fast structure of the music. So these two together, running through a few basics Adam showed Davey, and then jamming for almost two hours of simply stunning music, only Tara and I for an audience. I wonder had I walked by them on the street, playing with the same looks of joy and fun on their faces as they played with that night, pausing only for an occasional sip of beer and to laugh, then carry on. Would I have felt the same? Would I have connected to beautiful music away from my own comfort zone?
I had the pleasure recently of seeing a man named Mike Chunn give a talk to a work gathering I was involved in up in Auckland. Mike was a member of an old Kiwi band called Split Enz, perhaps one of the most successful New Zealand bands of all time - Six Months in a Leaky Boat, History Never Repeats, they were known to me even in the states back in those days of my youth. Mike now is grown up, kids of his own, an accomplished muso. From time to time he found himself giving talks to groups of kids at schools and at one stage Mike encountered a group of 8 year olds. He asked them, "how many of you here think they could write a song?". All the children immediately put up there hands, and wanted to start NOW. A few weeks later Mike found himself in front of a group of 14 year old kids, and asked the same question. Reluctantly, two put their hands up. Which caused Mike to stop and ponder, what in gods name are we doing to our children between 8 and 14? Or at least listening to him talk, that is how I understood the question. Think about our own lives as Responsible Adults! What are we doing to the Music! It is our most purest, and most accessible form of communication, yet we seem to cut ourselves off from the very form that can bring us closer together. If not as strangers, then as lovers, partners, fathers, mothers, siblings, parents, friends. Turn it up!
Mike decided to Do Something. He started a nation wide song writing contest for teen age children. The results he produced, and played for us, brought most of us to tears. Teen age boys writing songs to their fathers, teen age girls to their mothers, to their grand parents, to their peers, and playing and recording in front of those very people. It was, is amazing. It fills me with hope and light. It is music communicating where all else has failed. God knows I did that for years. But at least I was trying, and these kids with their amazing lyrics and music unleashed upon the people to which it should matter the most was almost unbearable. An amazing Gift Mike Chunn has given those people and the world.
Mike's web site is at : http://www.playitstrange.co.nz/ Please check it out, and just support it, acknowledge it, and most of all, go Listen to some Tunes and Turn it Up Real Loud!!!!