Upper Makaroro hut : near the headwaters of the Makaroro river. The focal point of the Ruataniwha dam. Steep rugged terrain. Not difficult to see far below this point on the river why technocrat money changers want to alter these places forever...
The bile rises in my throat. My heart hurts. To read our Department of Conservation, the managers and overseers of all our conservation land and survival of our native and freshwater species are using semantics, a loophole, the vagaries of legal speak to allow the Ruahine to not only be compromised, but altered forever. Wilderness drowned in her own blood, the very water that sustains it, so that people out here can make more money and pollute more rivers. The rotten stench and slime coated feel of the entire Ruataniwha dam scheme has in the entire course of it's unfolding and subterfuge filled and suspect resource consent process boarders on criminal. Much like the rivers that will lie below this dam, all emerging from the Ruahine. And to the Ruahine range upon which it's prostrate living corpse will rest, it is a crime. It makes me sick
Through the years I have met and interacted with many DOC workers. Coalface peeps who are certainly not there for the monetary riches on offer, but rather a love of the whenua, the mountains and rivers and the native fauna and creatures that dwell within such places. This government has slowly reduced their numbers, turning the rest into paper shuffling bureaucrats beholden to smiling assassins of our wilderness. One DOC employee had the guts to leak documentation that the original DOC submission in regards to the dam was 36 pages long, reduced upon direction from the top to reduce it to a few meagre mumbling paragraphs of neither support nor opposition. He, or she, is now being hunted like a criminal, the upper echelons of the department and government demanding a scalp for such insurrection in revealing the truth. That person is a hero!
"Truth is always the enemy of power. And power the enemy of Truth" - Edward Abbey
Parks Peak hut under an emerging full moon...the entire access to this place via the southern ridge will be gone, much of the start of it underwater. And it is a long somewhat grueling ridge at that, up and down the undulating forest and occasional open top stretches. The stunted tawhairauriki, fighting their own battles in the thin soiled narrow ridge seem to smile knowingly as I pass by. There is no water to be had, there is no relief to the slight but relentless climb to here. It is a ridge I have climbed now many times, each one staggering into this little lovely mountain meadow under my load thirsty and tired and vowing never again. Yet I return again and again...till perhaps now.
The dead trees in the Ruahine speak the loudest. Their very essence being absorbed back into the meagre earth they themselves struggled upon their entire lives. The death poses grip me deeply. Most often like this one, all of our tipuna, ancestors. "Leave us be! Listen! You need us more than we need you. We love you, why cannot you love us in turn."
Earlier this year I was at Parks Peak on my own. The final evening it was clear but windy and gale like winds buffeted over the ridge. I went and stood in the forest amongst the living and dead trees and felt the very bones of the Ruahine herself swaying and rocking in the wind. Then I noticed the tears running down my cheeks, an overwhelming sense of love and grief that rolled through me like the winds through my very soul.. I thought it was about me, and it was. I know now it was also grief for the very whenua, the land, that I stood shakily upon. My heart aches.