The afternoon was spent on a team-building exercise with my new-look colleagues.
Nope, but the company's just finished a major restructure and most of the new faces started while I was in Hong Kong so work lately has been an exercise in "Howdy stranger!" Yesterday's thing was a 'get to know you' kind of exercise and involved each team painting a small picture from memory, which when put with all the others would make a masterful piece of art. This involved collaborating with other teams on where things on the edges of pictures would meet, what colour they'd be, etc - all without being able to actually show each other what we were doing. Being a bunch of builders, the rulers came out and it all turned out pretty cool. It's a giant (like, 4m x 2m) colourful picture and it'll end up hanging in the lobby where we will all be equal parts proud of and embarrassed by our efforts on a daily basis.
As team building things go it was pretty fun, and having something pretty to keep was a bonus. The only problem I have with those exercises is the reflection part at the end, where I always end up feeling a bit patronised as we are led to obvious conclusions as to how the exercise is relevant to our day-to-day work. The biggest thing I normally get from team building sessions is the opportunity to get to know people better, which flows into work by improving relationships and morale over and above any learning related to how we're all part of the big picture, you know? I understand why they do this bit, but I think it's unnecessary.
I got home to a flyer in my letterbox from the Coastal Coalition. These guys oppose the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill essentially because they think that Crown ownership makes your average kiwi's access to the beach and fishing 'safer' than Maori ownership would. They don't seem too worried about the history of the Bill, establishing rightful ownership through evidence, or equal treatment for all citizens - they are purely concerned about 'what might happen' and the flyer I got focuses on this. While nothing in the flyer is false, it's spun very much to imply that Maori will be 'given' large chunks of beaches and start telling everyone else to piss off while starting mines and oil wells and generally destroying the heritage of 'all New Zealanders'. Which is exactly what current private owners are able to do, but for some reason if Maori do it, it's a bad bad thing.
Remember, this all started because some people wanted to establish a mussel farm.
From what I understand of the Bill, it won't be giving anyone anything but establishing the right of Maori to prove their right to title in court, based on customary use and possession under British (now New Zealand) common law. I also understand that many Maori are not happy with it because the requirement to prove constant occupation since 1840 is going to be extremely difficult to fulfil. It does seem that the Bill is being pushed through parliament very quickly - I can understand the desire to repeal the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and I suspect that the Maori Party support for the Bill is based in knowing that no piece of legislation will please everybody and this might be as good as it gets. But if both folks like the Coastal Coalition and also Maori representatives are opposing the Bill, it signals to me that more consultation is necessary. However, views are polarised so more consultation may not actually improve anything. ;-/
So anyway, I wrote a strongly-worded email to the head of the Coastal Coalition (whose website appears to have been built by the same folks that did the Family First one):
"I received a flyer from the Coastal Coalition in my mailbox in Crofton Downs today, spelling out the campaign to prevent the Marine and Coastal Area Bill from passing into law. Having studied the Foreshore and Seabed Act in the context of the Treaty of Waitangi, I find the idea of opposing the Marine and Coastal Area Bill extremely offensive. The Foreshore and Seabed Act amounts to appropriation (another word for that is theft) and it's the actions of groups like the Coastal Coalition that divide New Zealand, not legislation that allows Maori to claim title by proving in court what is rightfully theirs. Denying access to this right treats Maori as somehow lesser citizens and I am ashamed that my fellow white New Zealanders might consider this to be ok. I do not see Maori title as a threat to my access to the beach and fishing, and I think to imply such is doing Maori and the intent of the new bill a disservice.
Please do not allow such garbage to find its way into my letterbox again."
I know it won't make any difference, it's a bit like telling V1agr4 guy that I don't need my penis to stand up all night long and to please stop sending me spam - but at least now the guy knows that there are 'people like us*' who disagree with them.
* This was the wording the flyer used for 'white New Zealanders'.
Frankly, I don't understand how any fair-minded person who has read the history of this country could conclude that the way Maori are being treated in this is right.
Last word on this topic: someone asked me to post the F&S Act essay. I'll do that after this (flocked cos I'm shy) in a separate post. IMO there are a lot of important points missing due to the word limit, but it covers the basics of what happened and why I think it's wrong.
And then the alien-that-has-replaced-my-son* decided to clean the house. Two days ago he decided he wanted his personal space to be tidy and gave it the mother of all huck-outs - not the usual lick and a promise but bulging rubbish bags, jif, rearranging furniture, the works. Then the house got it too. We all pitched in and oh my it's shiny! All this without being asked..
Also, thanks to you cunning lot for the drawer knob advice. I'm going to give the toothpicks-and-PVA idea a go (mostly because I have these things) on the weekend. ;-)
* If you see The Kid anywhere, tell him I love him and hope the aliens are treating him well.