Once again here in Aotearoa our Wild Places are under attack. It is no surprise really as when this National right wing government was elected last year we all knew the Resource Management Act would be put under immediate threat, and has been. Yet now we have our National Parks, forests, and sea put in the sights of those whom would happily carve up our wild places in the name of wealth generation.
We have right wing lowest common denominator scrawny shouldered talk back radio hosts promoting this as being a good thing. Our girthy and heavy jowled Minister of Energy and Resources, Gerry Brownlee, is scathing and sarcastic in any resistance to the wishes of his corporate masters. "Scaremongering" he bellows! "We have been quite up-front about the fact WE WANT TO SEE THE ACTIVITY INCREASED," he said. "We do not want to destroy the conservation estate, BUT where there can be "sensitive" mineral extraction which adds to the economic well being of this country we should do it."
Well pardon me Gerry while I set down my meat pie and ponder that one! Being upset about that statement doesn't appear to me to be "Scaremongering", as you are clearly stating the intention to get into pristine wilderness areas and alter them forever. Just what is "Sensitive" about any mineral extraction? The road building, the helicopter pads and traffic, the destroying of waterways and forests, or the pilfering of our wild resources to create a few jobs and send the wealth overseas? You need to go for a walk in some these places, not fly over in a helicopter or look at them on a grid map, and take that talk back radio host with you.
Above and below are Charlie, "T", and cousin Gibson out by a nearby river for International Rock Flipping Day.
It is for boys like this above I feel a heaviness weigh upon me. Knowing so many who would read my words and quickly classify me as "Greenie whacko", an "old hippy", a "hand wringing liberal apologist". The reality is I am a balding middle aged white male with a mortgage and a job raising a family the best I can. I do vote Green, and probably am an ex hippie, and I am certainly more a liberal than a conservative, but life has sort of steered me back to the main stream as it does with so many of us. The mere fact Wild Places are out there makes the day to day grind a little more tolerable, represents possibility and freedom, experiences away from the trappings of modern life. It sets free in me something wild and primitive that in turn helps me connect to a bigger focus. For some it is religion, or spirituality, or philosophy, but for me and many others it is in the Wild Places. I simply want these boys above to experience that in its purest form, or at least have the opportunity to know that such places still exist. To those who don't get that I can only paraphrase the words of Edward Abbey in that it does not matter if indeed we never actually even go there but that they merely are there for the possibility they represent.
I will end my brief rant with the words of Sigurd Olson from a speech given to the 9th Wilderness Conference in San Francisco back in 1965. Olson was an environmentalist, author, and a passionate defender and advocate of Wild Places. He was at the helm of the political canoe which steered the creation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness through rough and troubled waters until signed into creation by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.
"If, as Harrison Brown said, " The spiritual resources of man are the critical resources," then wilderness, which fosters such values, must be preserved. If we can believe what the wise have said for thousands of years, then there is hope for wildness and beauty in our environment. If spirit is a power and a force that spells the difference between richness of living and sterility, then we know what we must do. It may well be that with our swiftly expanding population, the movement away from nature into vast city complexes and decimation facing much of the land, that the wilderness we can hold now will become the final bastions of the spirit of man. Unless we can preserve places where the endless spiritual needs of man can be fulfilled and nourished, we will destroy our culture and ourselves." - Sigurd Olson
'We stand for what we stand on" - Ed Abbey