I have enjoyed some of Patrica Grace’s novels. The first one I read was Potiki back in the 80s.
A Maori community on the coast of New Zealand is threatened by a land developer who wants to purchase the community property, move the community meeting hall, and construct many new buildings, including an “underwater zoo.” The story is told in several chapters that switch narrators.
She relates the growing concern the Maori have about developers coming into their land, and their quiet, concerted efforts to rebel. She details their successes and many painful failures in a sparse, simple prose. The book does not really have a true resolution; instead, Patricia Grace outlines the cultural differences that exist in New Zealand, and the uses and abuses of power, and how it can affect a people.
Very often fiction can predict or precede the reality: most often with science fiction. The plot line for Potiki, though, was never very far from real life activities back when it was published.
Now Patricia Grace has taken a strong stand against the Transport Agency and the Crown, which are attempting to take her ancestral land. It was wanted for part of the Kapiti Expressway. Andrea O’Neill reports in Stuff:
It could cost $16 million for the Transport Agency to avoid author Patricia Grace’s land in building the Kapiti Expressway, the Environment Court has been told.
Three days after the writer won a legal battle in the Maori Land Court to exclude her land from the expressway corridor, a separate objection she lodged began its two-day hearing yesterday.
Grace owns a 5770 square metre block of ancestral land in Waikanae that was once the site of Tuku Rakau agricultural village.
Its chief in the mid 19th century was Grace’s great-great-grandfather Wiremu Parata Te Kakakura, a Maori MP and one of the founders of present-day Waikanae.
The Transport Agency is seeking to compulsorily acquire 983sqm of the block to build the McKays Crossing to Peka Peka section of the expressway.
NZTA gave Grace only the options of selling all or part of her land, she said.
Grace would find it legally difficult to sell her land to anybody outside her family, yet the Crown seemed to have little regard for the legal protection of Maori freehold land, she said.
“The irony is we’re not allowed to disinherit our heirs but the Crown is allowed to disinherit our heirs. This is protection of the land for future generations.”
Of six routes considered for the expressway, the current option affected the smallest amount of Maori and waahi tapu (culturally significant) land, Parker said.
On Friday, the Maori Land Court upheld Grace’s application for her block to become a Maori reserve, which should protect it from expressway bulldozers.
It is yet to be seen whether that decision will stand up against the Environment Court ruling of Judge Craig Thompson and Environment Commissioners Kevin Prime and David Kernohan.
Generation Zero explains why the Kapiti expressway is bad for the local communities and the environment, and does nothing for the economy:
There was a strong public outcry against the Expressway. Residents and urban designers knew it would divide the community, enforce car use over other options, destroy 63 houses, affect 1350, and destroy a wetland and Maori Urupa (burial ground). The public outcry was so strong they made this documentary about it.
Then in 2012, Campbell live received incredible leaked information – an engineering report from BECA consultants projected that although the Kapiti Expressway cost $630 million, it would only deliver $126 million in benefits – a disastrously low benefit-cost ratio of 0.2, well below the threshold of one that’s normally required for NZTA to consider a project.
It’s 100% Possible for us to move beyond fossil fuels, and we need to get started today – yet our public transport systems, cycle networks and rail freight industry are all missing out on vital funding. Somehow, at the same time, we can afford to spend $630 million on an uneconomic motorway, where there are clearly better alternatives available.
The Transport Blog,October 2012, reports on the Campbell Live Report.
TVNZ Te Karere, November 2013. The video includes a bit about Patricia Grace’s, at that time, up-coming case to be heard at the Maori Land Court (Non-Maori speakers; there is a button at the bottom of the video to turn English captions on).
Published on Nov 14, 2013
The Supreme Court has dismissed the Takamore Trust’s appeal to stop the Kapiti Expressway from being built through their sacred lands. Now it looks as though the trust will have to work with the NZ Transport Association in order for their concerns to be heard in the process.