Alan’s article on “Turf Wars” is well-spoken, as always.  I would, however, make a distinction between the wealthy lawyers, developers and sports stars who actually want to live here, to be part of the island, and those who only seek to maximise profit from their ownership of land here.

The former are responsible for the gentrification of Palm Beach, Church Bay and such.  If they end up overwhelming the aging hippie population and remaking the entire island in their own self-satisfied image, well, I personally will be sad — but they did nothing that we didn’t do.  The Rocky Bay hippies took over their paradise from a bunch of retired World War I veterans from Panmure, who I’m sure bleated about the loss of neighbourhood character.  The veterans had taken it from the O’Brien farmers, who had taken it from Ngati Paoa, who had taken it from Ngati Maru and so forth.  Turf wars indeed; the argument of prior occupancy cuts many different ways.

On the other side are the profiteers, like the owners of the atrocity at Wharetana Bay.  These are not people who want to “live their island dream” or participate in island life in any way.  They want only to sell Waiheke’s charm as if they had had a hand in its creation.  They are parasites in the most literal meaning of the term: disposing for their own benefit of an asset that someone else has created.  Their position is morally indistinguishable from theft, systemically indistinguishable from infection.  They do not seek to remake the island, but to consume it.  They intend to ingest it as it is, and once the maximum profit has been chewed out of it, to spit it out and move on to the next unspoilt paradise.

So, how to deal with these two groups, each of whom threaten the island’s character in very different ways?  The first group, those who live here, are a social and cultural challenge, and must be handled in social and cultural ways:  Give them a personal stake in the preservation of the island’s unique qualities.  Invite them to enjoy the many walks and special places that Waiheke has to offer, or to join the Historical Society, or to drink an island-brewed beer.  They are human, and were drawn to the island, whether they understand this or not, by a charm whose survival cannot be taken for granted.

The second group, the parasites, could not care less about the long-term survival of the island charm they seek to consume, any more than I cared about the long-term survival of the banana I ate this morning.  Parasites can be dealt with in only one way: antibodies.  These work by neutralising an invasive agent’s ability to pilfer nutrients from its environment.  Short of actual violence, the only way to get this done here is through restrictive laws.  Since our Rodney Hide-designed supercity will never implement anything of the sort, Waiheke’s future depends on its political independence.  We are not talking about a cultural challenge here; the danger of the parasites is physical, not social.  Once Wharetana Bay has been destroyed, it’s gone forever, or at least for all of our lifetimes.

The same can be said of our entire island.  There is a great monetary incentive for profiteers to turn all of Waiheke into another Gold Coast or Miami Beach, a wasteland of absentee-owned vacation rentals heavily marketed to those who prefer their beaches endowed with the familiar noises and smells of urban crowding.  The only way to block that nightmarish future is to make it unprofitable, and to do that we shall have to take control of our own political destiny.  Regime change on the Local Board?  Sure, that’s a feel-good tactical move; but as long as we remain under the parental gaze of the supercity, no number of Paul Waldens will permit us to rescue the island we all love.

7 thoughts on “Parasites”

  1. I think it also went like this at some point – I personally would rather move to Invergargill than be EATEN!!

    Despite knowing of the Māori predilection for killing and eating the conquered, and despite the admonition by some of the elder chiefs that the principle of Nunuku was not appropriate now, two chiefs — Tapata and Torea — declared that “the law of Nunuku was not a strategy for survival, to be varied as conditions changed; it was a moral imperative.”[11] A Moriori survivor recalled : “[The Maori] commenced to kill us like sheep…. [We] were terrified, fled to the bush, concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies. It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed – men, women and children indiscriminately.” A Maori conqueror explained, “We took possession… in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people. Not one escaped…..” [12]

  2. Just thought I should add here – I am aware that cannibalism was a practice designed to deter one’s enemies rather than being a food requirement. Tactically brilliant really!

  3. Great piece, Mark. The tensions between the old guard and the newcomers are perfectly captured here and are, I believe, a quite natural and healthy aspect of human community. Without change, progress will not occur. What we, as a community, need to be aware of is what we are progressing towards and whether or not the destination implied is where we want to go.

  4. Great article Mark. Please excuse my ignorance, Cool Hand Luke but what do your [11] [12] references refer to?
    I recently “sold-up” / sold out on my dream ‘section’ in Ostend. We would have loved to keep paying the mortgage but had only a half share in the home. The childeren have no rights to stay in their home according to the (alleged) family lawyer advising me. What I found parasitical was firstly the Real Estate flyers and calling cards etc. (must have got wind of a family break-up….) Then the friendly builders calling in to HELP me with some very basic DIY and security. Heading towards the “silly season” a cash offer was made by the ”builder” who then termed himself “agent for” and Doh! …slowly it dawned on me that his “helpful nature” and that of his worker, were all merely vultural (sic) behaviours. I was naive to think that anyone does anything merely to help someone out, (but heck Waiheke is famous on Waiheke for this kind of niceness…) It hurt very much to be BURNED like that. The “builder” is senior in a local voluntary service and known to many on the island…so definately “no names no packhorses Reggie” (R.Perrin 197?) His worker is loyal to him and his cash(obviously) and as a team they worked effectively to get me to sign over our home. My daughters and I are no longer Islanders..($400 per week for a 3 bedroom seriously unfinished house with ZERO heating served to widen our vista) So does this particular story fits the category of “Parasite”?? I was not behind on either mortgage but rates but certainly had all my turangawaewae-ness whisked away by a CLEVER maid, and the Community Lauded boss who proudly employs 2-3 UNcertified builders and has a reasonable contract on many local septics.

    Of course this is not an unique story…but it is another view of parasitical behaviour unsupportive of down to earth Waiheke families. Or maybe it’s just me..and it’s ALL just business time. The purchaser/new holders of our family home of 12 years sanctioned the levelling of producing fruit trees too, perhaps she will plant some nice fastgrow F1 hybrids? None of my business now is it.

  5. I feel for you.
    We are having to move again! – because the landlord is not prepared to give us a 12 month lease. Not prepared to give us anything more than the bare legal minimum notice period – so that they have ‘flexibility’. This is of course code for ‘I want to sell’. A red flag for us in the context that the last couple of years they were happy to have the ‘security’ of a long lease.

    Millie has written screeds on this – I’ll try to get it published, its good polemic – but of course one cannot say too much and get the reputation of a ‘troublesome tenant’ so perhaps anon may have to appear.

  6. Biks – I just copied and pasted that paragraph above from wikipedia so it came with those references attached. I am bit interested in Maoriori but don’t really know if wiki is accurate. As for the local housing crisis, it’s pretty bad. And yes, there are vultures around and lots of them. I think the over priced rentals and general lack of available rentals to be a key factor in the loss of social diversity on waiheke. In europe, people can rent their entire lives, the same house. I don’t really understand why that isn’t the done thing here or what social and economic conditions have made life time rental very desirable option there. Maybe someone else knows. As for the troublesome tenants tag, that’s exactly what happens if you kick up a stink. One thing that really gets me is one realestate company that advertises on trademe with waiheke houses, they screen the tenants by asking questions like, how many are you? do you have pets? children? It’s a pre-judge system to find professional tenants and that is also a major kick at people who might not be parasites, but rather, just people who want to live and raise kids here and work if they can or may not work for one reason or another. I like diversity although at times many different types of people with varying bank account balances have really annoyed me. I think if I had to pick one thing that annoys me above all others it would be geriatric drivers going 30km/h. Take the bus!!!

  7. 🙂 thanks Cool Hand Luke, yes many vultures! I appreciate your empathy Mr.Admin ! and yes I too understand the ‘troublesome tenant” bit aswell, insecure housing situations do little for indidvidual health and harm a communitys health too.

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