Sunday, August 11, 2019

Clive Bibby: The green, green grass of home

I've never been much of a Tom Jones fan although l do admire his ability to keep drawing the numbers to his less frequent concerts.

However, the one song of his that gets me humming along is a nostalgic rendition of "The green, green grass of home".

I was reminded of its capacity to bring grown men to tears, including me, as it played on our car radio during a recent return to my turangawaewae near Waipawa in Central Hawkes' Bay for a family reunion.

Our family had once owned a sizeable chunk of this beautiful part of New Zealand's pristine farmland and although statistically our control over what happens on that land is less significant today, it is impossible to ignore the memories of that association which come flooding back when you re-enter the zone.

As a student of history, l am proud of the fact that our tenure as kaitiaki of this magnificent piece of our national heritage has been recorded in honourable terms.

Right from the time in the late 19th century when my great grandparents legitimately acquired the land - most of it in a non productive state - and began the long, slow, expensive and at times heartbreaking process of development, succcessive generations have shown that they appreciate how fortunate we were to have chosen this lifestyle as a vehicle to make our contribution and this area to call our spiritual home.

Other families, both Maori and Pakeha, can testify to this sense of belonging as an ideal basis for building societies confident in their own skin- each one proud of their individual successes in establishing footprints for others to follow.

Apart from the shear hard work involved conserving and maintaining each property ready for handing on to future generations, there will always be a need for appreciating the requirements of a management role.

Whether our names are on the deed of title or not, our responsibilities to the nation is far more important. Our individual occupancy is temporary - the land and its surrounding community is permanent.

Understanding those responsibilities are the main features of communities who want to continue moving forward for the benefit of all - learning from the past but not continually litigating it.

I say that as we watch yet another sad chapter of our colourful but fractured history, (this time at lhumatao), which has produced little else apart from unsightly squabbles between family (hapu) members over land ownership and whose view should hold sway.

It is a shame that so much energy is wasted trying to establish leadership and negotiating authority in what are really only family disputes when a compromise solution should not only be achievable but would be the one to benefit all.

Why do we pander to these groups of unfortunates who appear to want nothing more than a public scrap at the taxpayer's expense. Is it fair to ask our police force to keep their vigil watching over proceedings on a freezing night well out of range of the warmth from the protestors' log fires? I think not!

None of this current generation is serving their people responsibly if they spend most of their waking hours in front of the cameras. Their time as kaitiaki may have come but it already has all the hallmarks of wasted opportunities.Their tupuna's memory deserves better.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.

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