Letter to the Editor, The Northland Age:
Te Houtaewa should be looking over his shoulder as Iwi in the Far North wrap up treaty negotiations, because attention will now be fixed on the jewel in the Far North crown - Te Oneroa A Tohe and the forests.
No doubt there is a prospectus winding its way through China, as this is being read, urging investors to get in early. Incumbent on the plan is the consolidation of political and Maori interests. It is timely that Mayor Brown seeks to eliminate the Regional Council in favour of a District Council - with the power to fast-track development, but this alone will not provide the political infrastructure necessary to create another Maui, or Surfers' Paradise along 90 Mile Beach.
The real work, of course, is how to get the buy-in of the six northern Iwi. Someone will have to take a leadership role; someone with enough mana to organise and deliver Maori co-operation in the venture. That person (or group of persons) will also need the necessary business acumen, as well as a background in economics.
By my reckoning three things will have to happen: Te Runanga O Muriwhenua will become the 'next big thing' in Maoridom; this to negotiate the sale and disposition of tribal lands in the Aupouri Peninsula. I say "sale" because the Chinese are never interested in rents and leases - only ownership. Of course, Kaitaia Airport will have to become an international, because nobody will want to drive from Auckland International to get here. Lastly, something will have to be done to pacify the locals who are affected, both pakeha and Maori, given our record for tourist crime.
The benefits to the community will be significant. Thousands of jobs will be created in the hospitality and service sectors. Local developers will certainly benefit from the building boom. In the short term, all those consultants who have been working on treaty negotiations will be able to retain their travel allowances and per diems, helping to get things started.
That's what makes this upcoming election so important. Because:
E kore e mau i koe, he wae kai pakiaka
(A foot accustomed to running over roots makes the speediest runner)